With the world’s most iconic endurance race just days away, Benoît Tréluyer offers 24 words that best describe the unique 24-hour experience.
Benoît Tréluyer is gunning for a third outright victory in this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours alongside Audi Sport team-mates Marcel Fässler and André Lotterer. With the world’s most iconic endurance race just days away, the Frenchman offers 24 words that best describe the unique 24-hour experience.
Preliminaries... This is where we begin to gear up for Le Mans. Our preparations went well this year and, while we’re currently where we expected to be, there’s still space for improvement. We were all smiles after the official Test Day.
Scrutineering... This is always a great event as it gives you the first opportunity to meet the fans. There may have been some testing beforehand, but you really get into the groove when Scrutineering begins because it properly kicks off Le Mans week.
Audi... They’re my family! When it comes to reliability, performance and expertise, Audi remain the benchmark. Racing for such a team makes you extremely proud but it also increases the pressure on your shoulders.
Qualifying... It’s always nice to secure pole position, but it actually has little influence on the overall result. During our best years, this is the icing on the cake.
Fans... In my opinion, there are three big fan families: the Japanese enthusiasts, the US admirers and the Le Mans aficionados. The latter bears a special significance for me as my native Alençon is quite close to La Sarthe.
Team-mates... Ah, my buddies! I wouldn’t like to share the car with anyone other than Marcel (Fässler) and André (Lotterer)!
Drivers’ Parade... This is an amazing tradition, something that’s synonymous with the legend of Le Mans. You are cruising through the town in old cars, while getting very close to the fans. Even when it rains, we still enjoy it immensely.
Focus... You are fully focused from the very beginning. After the official Test Day, I went home for three days but was already getting into the zone. This year, for some reason, I feel my concentration has increased tenfold.
Start... I actually feel the goose bumps more during the formation lap! I’ve previously taken the 24 Hours’ start, but to be honest it’s not my favourite moment. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy starting a race, but when it comes to Le Mans I prefer to spectate, speaking purely as a motorsport fan!
Hunaudières... I still have vivid memories of the first time I travelled up the Hunaudières! This is a unique, awe-inspiring straight because of the speeds we reach. Anything can happen down there.
Chicanes... The circuit is full of them: Dunlop, Hunaudières, and not forgetting the Ford sequence before the start/finish straight. Basically, if you are not quick through the chicanes, you shouldn’t bother coming to Le Mans!
GT cars... Le Mans has always been about sharing the same track. In my opinion, GTs are an important part of the event. Sometimes they’re blamed, but Le Mans would not be the same without them.
Night... This is magical! You’re on your own, in the zone and feel quite lonely, albeit in a very peaceful way. After a crazy week honouring requests and meeting fans, suddenly you’re all by yourself. It may sound selfish, but it’s an extremely pleasurable experience.
Meals... Eat whenever you can! Joking aside, it is crucial to eat well, but it’s far from gourmet cuisine. Since you can be called upon to get in the car at any time, you’d better stay away from cassoulet!
Sleep... It’s very difficult to sleep at Le Mans, whether things are running smoothly or not. However, it helps when you’re lucky enough to have two great team-mates and a crew who you fully trust.
Caution periods... They are quite frustrating! You only go to Le Mans once a year and any wait behind the Safety Car is agonising. The worst feeling is when they occur due to a massive shunt when you know something serious has happened.
Pit-stops... They are absolutely crucial. A couple of seconds lost in the pits can dictate the outcome of the entire race, especially at Le Mans where repairs can be longer.
Lights... I immediately think of the lights coming from the carnival! Also, you feel like a pinball when you enter the Dunlop chicane at night. That’s the picture I have in my mind.
Morning... It can be tricky because you are gradually getting more and more tired. However, once you’ve done a couple of laps, you feel awesome. At this point, everyone feels comfortable with the track, and traffic is easier to drive through. Everything just runs more smoothly.
Rain... This is everybody’s nightmare! The circuit’s size means that rain rarely covers the entire track, although this means you can be suddenly caught off-guard, giving you the kind of surprise you won’t enjoy.
Strategy... Getting it right is vital, although it’s constantly being adjusted every two hours, which requires a lot of work. You always have to prepare for the unexpected.
Mechanics... Hats off to them! We, behind the wheel, finish the job they start. There needs to be a great relationship between the mechanics and drivers, which I can assure you is certainly the case at Audi.
Clock... The clock on the start/finish straight is the only one I pay attention to at Le Mans! When I power past the pits, I sometimes give it a glance in order to make some calculations.
Podium... The best view on Earth!
Round three of the FIA World Endurance Championship – the Le Mans 24 Hours – takes place on June 11-15.