Following the two-month break since the previous round at Le Mans, it’s a fully refreshed and invigorated Benoît Tréluyer who is eager to begin the second half of this year’s FIA World Endurance Championship campaign. Five key events – beginning in Brazil this weekend and subsequently taking in the Kingdom of Bahrain, America, Japan and China – that will decide the destination of the 2013 WEC crown, a crown the reigning world champion is eager to retain.
FIA WEC Drivers' Points:
1. Kristensen/ McNish/Duval (Audi) 94
2. Treluyer/Fassler/Lotterer (Audi) 64
3. Sarrazin/Davidson/Buemi (Toyota) 63
Next Race: Interlagos
Brazil, September 1
Length: 2.67 miles / 4.3 kms
Benoit's 2012 result: 2nd overall
However, Benoît and his Audi Sport team-mates André Lotterer and Marcel Fässler will need to score the best result possible in order to keep their hands on the title. Merely finishing in the points will not be enough to reduce the deficit to their nearest rivals and explains why Treluyer has continued his intensive preparation throughout a summer break that combined sport with family, friends and relaxation.
“There’s been a lot of physical training, but I’ve also enjoyed spending time with my family and friends,” confirms Benoît before catching his plane to Brazil. “I began [the summer break] by spending a week with my partners SRAM and GT in the Deux Alpes ski resort which was hosting Crankworx, a very prestigious mountain bike event. There was the Enduro World Cup, downhill mountain biking, slopestyle and the best riders in the world. It was a very enjoyable week and I did a lot of cycling! Straight afterwards me and my family headed for the north of France to spend a few days in Le Touquet, where the weather was great and a little cooler, before we returned south. We welcomed my sister, some friends and even a journalist who conducted an interview for the French off-road cycling magazine Vélo Vert, which was published in the August issue. Our house in Gordes has been full of visitors, but I’ve still found time to fine tune my physical condition and prepare for the end of the season. I am in great shape!”
Between bike training sessions, Benoît also indulged in another of his hobbies: restoring historic motorcycles!
“I am currently working on a René Gillet 125 VB from 1951 which we found in my wife Mélanie’s grandfather’s garage. I’m taking my time over it and having great fun!”
On top of all that, Tréluyer has also been backwards and forwards to Audi’s Ingolstadt base in Germany several times in preparation for the second half of the season, which begins this weekend at Interlagos. As a boy it’s a circuit he always dreamt of racing at and something he achieved for the first time last year.
“I love the circuit in Sao Paulo, despite discovering last year that the tarmac doesn’t have too much grip. But we’ve made progress with both the tyres and car’s aero since then so we’ll have a set-up that’s better suited this time. We will be much more competitive, that’s for sure, but at the same time it’s impossible to say by how much.”
For the time being the only certainty is that the fight for this year’s title will be extremely tight with the sister Audi R18 e-tron quattro of Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish and Loïc Duval.
“We will have to win everything and not miss out on a single point,” predicts Benoît. “Last year, with André and Marcel, we won the championship largely thanks to the double points we scored for our Le Mans victory, which helped to cancel out some of the lesser results, such as at the 12 Hours of Sebring where we only scored one and a half points. Saying that, this year we managed to fight back and finish fifth at La Sarthe, which gave us a few precious points.”
Ahead of Interlagos, the #1 crew trail their Audi Sport team-mates by 30 points. It’s a significant gap, but one that is not insurmountable.
“Many things can happen over five races,” insists the Frenchman. “Of course, we will have to work very hard to recover the lost ground, but we believe we can do it. We’re not planning on throwing the towel in!”
Ingolstadt’s other sports-prototype will not be their only significant opponent in Brazil where Benoît and his team-mates will also have one eye on Toyota.
“I do hope that our Japanese friends will fight hard until the end of the season and that we are going to have great battles against them, even if their focus seems to have shifted to next year. On our side as well, behind the scenes, we are actively preparing for 2014. The arrival of Porsche and a driver of Mark Webber’s calibre is fantastic for the championship. We are all very curious to discover how we stack up against a proven F1 winner. On top of that he seems like a real good guy, with both feet on the ground. He’s clever, works hard and has a profile that matches the WEC perfectly.
“But in the meantime there’s still a championship for us to fight for.”
The 6 Hours of Sao Paulo is live on Motors TV and Eurosport across Europe this Sunday.
6 Hours of Sao Paulo Schedule*
Friday 30 August
Free Practice 1: 11:05 – 12:35
Free Practice 2: 15:40 – 17:10
Saturday 31 August
Free Practice 3: 10:20 – 11:20
LMP Qualifying: 15:10 – 15:35
Sunday 1 September
Race: 12:00 – 18:00
*All times local
For more information about Benoit please visit www.benoittreluyer.com.