Treluyer extends championship lead Benoit Treluyer made it three podiums from the opening three rounds of the Formula Nippon championship at Motegi at the weekend, as the reigning Super GT champion extended his lead in the title standings as his...
Treluyer extends championship lead
Benoit Treluyer made it three podiums from the opening three rounds of the Formula Nippon championship at Motegi at the weekend, as the reigning Super GT champion extended his lead in the title standings as his closest rival failed to score points.
Arriving back in Japan on Thursday night from a first test of the Pescarolo Sport Peugeot 908 HDi at Magny-Cours ahead of the forthcoming Le Mans 24 Hours, Benoit just had time to visit his home in Tokyo before heading to Motegi for the weekend's first practice sessions. Qualifying proved to be a challenge, with Benoit posting just the 11th fastest time.
"We had a bad set up and a lack of grip," said a frustrated Treluyer on Saturday night. "The situation is made to look even worse as the Nakajima team is performing like Brawn GP in F1 at the moment and is a full second faster than anyone else. We knew they'd found something but we didn't think it would be that much."
With Loic Duval, Benoit's main championship rival, on the front row, Treluyer had no other option than to thoroughly analyse his telemetry until late into the night with his engineers, eventually finding the heart of the problem behind his relative lack of performance.
Although the weather looked menacing at the start of the race, all the drivers opted for slick tyres. After ten laps, the heavens opened and everyone dived into the pits for wets. Already up to eighth position, Benoit used the conditions to charge up the pack and was up to third when the rain stopped and he returned to the pits for slicks.
"I stopped a bit late and I lost a position," he explained. "Then the rain came back and we all had to return to the pits. Duval had already tangled with Lotterer at the start so I didn't need to do anything silly at a track that neither the team nor I have a good record at. With Loic out of the race, my objective was to score points. I didn't take any risks on cold tyres when I was exiting the pits and instead of attacking I just tried to pressurise my rivals into a mistake."
This proved to be a good strategy as Benoit ended up climbing back into second place behind the race winning Nakajima driver Takashi Kogure, who previously had just two championship points.
"I am now 12 points clear in the championship," said a delighted Treluyer after the race. "It's an excellent position to be in ahead of the next round at Mount Fuji, which is a circuit we know we're good at."
The Lawson-Impul team are also pulling out all the stops to close the small technical advantage of the Nakajima team before the race on 26 June.
"We are getting closer," said Treluyer. "We have a 12 point lead so we have some time to react."
On Monday morning, Benoit, his wife Melanie and son Jules, are heading back to France in order to prepare for the Le Mans 24 Hours on 13 and 14 June.
"The coming weeks will be intense," he laughed. "At the end of the week we need to practice driver changes, which we couldn't do at Magny-Cours and then we have the long Le Mans week. Just after the event we will have to rush back to Malaysia to compete in Round 3 of the Super GT championship in Sepang then return to Tokyo before heading to Fuji for Round 4 of the Formula Nippon championship. I won't have much time to breathe, but I am not complaining!! Lots of drivers would love to have such a programme!"
All this means that the adventures of "Benoit-poy" -- the cartoon starring Treluyer which can be watched on www.benoittreluyer.com and which is now also broadcast on a Japanese TV network, will be very amusing--