Nippon: Benoit Treluyer Fuji summary

Treluyer's run of bad luck continues Two weeks after his terrible accident at the Le Mans 24 Hours and just one since gearbox problems struck in Super GT 500, Benoît Treluyer endured another weekend blighted by bad luck. "Even though...

Treluyer's run of bad luck continues

Two weeks after his terrible accident at the Le Mans 24 Hours and just one since gearbox problems struck in Super GT 500, Benoît Treluyer endured another weekend blighted by bad luck.

"Even though qualifying did not go well," he said after the race, "the rain gave me an opportunity to make amends, which I was able to do during the first laps until my gear selector developed a problem--"

Benoît was forced into the pits to have his paddle shift fixed. The several laps lost as a result put paid to a points scoring finish and although he did return to the circuit, it was only to make sure that the gearbox was fully working ahead of the next round.

It was an unfortunate end to what was supposedly a fact-finding weekend. "Two days earlier," he insisted, "I arrived here with the firm intention of discovering the Nakajima team's secret as their cars are faster by a second a lap compared to the rest of the grid."

Free practice's objective was a simple one: to test new set-ups in order to reduce the performance gap between his Lawson-Impul team's single seaters and those run by the ex-Grand Prix driver.

"Therefore we tried totally different set-ups on the Saturday morning during free practice and found out some interesting options," he continued. "For qualifying, we continued in the same direction. In Q1, the handling was not so good with a lot of oversteer and no traction. In Q2, I went out with a new set-up which was unfortunately too different following a misunderstanding with my engineer. This time, I had a little bit too much understeer but still without any traction. When I arrived in the 'A' corner, the car understeered so much that I put two wheels on the grass."

As a result, eleventh fastest was the best Benoît could manage, leaving him desperate for the sort of heavy rain only Mount Fuji can conjure.

"For the warm-up, we came back to the set-ups which we had during the first races. The car was behaving well and I was quicker than my team mates, but not quick enough to challenge the Nakajimas. Then, at the start, the heavens opened and I sensed a chance of a comeback."

Hope quickly turned to despair though for Benoît thanks to his gear selector problem.

"I didn't score any points," he underlined, "but on top of that Loïc Duval, my closest championship rival, took the point for pole position and the ten for the win."

Stopping the Nakajima-run machines, Formula Nippon's answer to Brawn GP in F1, now becomes an absolute necessity for Benoît who expects the upcoming round to be just as difficult.

"We will suffer in two weeks in Suzuka where the Nakajimas will again be very competitive. Saying that, this weekend was not a complete waste of time as we have collected some data which will be very helpful in the future. I have full confidence in our capacity to root out the thing which will help us to reduce the gap."

It's a challenge which Benoît is prepared to take if and when his recent spate of poor luck finally deserts him.

"As we cannot test in between races," he concluded, "we had to take risks to try and keep pace with the Nakajimas. As we had a comfortable lead in the championship, we decided it was a risk worth taking."

With his championship advantage slashed to just a single point by compatriot Duval at Fuji however, it will be imperative for the team to bounce back strongly at Suzuka.

With the title race hotting up, you can rest-assured that the latest edition of "Benoit-poy", Treluyer's very own cartoon series, will be a cracker.

-credit: benoittreluyer.com.

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About this article
Series Other open wheel
Drivers Benoit Tréluyer
Teams Brawn GP