6 Hours of Sao Paulo - FIA World Endurance Championship, Round 4 - Mission Accomplished
By Mel Fabrikant Friday, September 06, 2013, 12:55 PM EDT
Benoît Tréluyer and his Audi Sport crew-mates Marcel Fässler and André Lotterer reignited their FIA World Endurance Championship drivers’ title assault last weekend with victory in the 6 Hours of Sao Paulo (1 September). Racing to the rhythm of the Brazilian samba, the #1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro didn’t miss a beat on its way to the chequered flag.
Result: 6 Hours of Sao Paulo
1. Treluyer/Fassler/Lotterer (Audi)
2. Kristensen/McNish/Duval (Audi)
3. Heidfeld/Prost/Beche (Rebellion)
FIA WEC Drivers' Points:
1. Kristensen/ McNish/Duval (Audi) 112
2. Treluyer/Fassler/Lotterer (Audi) 90
3. Sarrazin/Davidson/Buemi (Toyota) 63
Next Race: Circuit of the Americas
USA, September 22
Length: 3.4 miles / 5.5 kms
Benoit's 2012 result: N/A
Nearly 40,000 fans packed the Interlagos grandstands armed with surdo drums and apito whistles to provide the tempo for Sunday’s race, and it was amidst this party atmosphere that the reigning World Champion clinched a second victory of the 2013 season, his third when including the non-championship 12 Hours of Sebring. As such, they have reduced the deficit to their championship-leading team-mates Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish and Loïc Duval in the #2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro.
“This is a case of mission accomplished, but it wasn’t an easy weekend as Interlagos is a difficult track, even if we have seen a lot of progress in our car compared to last year,” reported the Frenchman on Sunday night. “The team has made great strides, as shown by our pole position ahead of Toyota, who beat us in last year’s race.
“We were a bit quicker early on but felt they may have opted for a different strategy. It’s a shame that they had problems as the contest looked set to be very exciting. The most important thing is that we secured strong points for the championship and gave it our all, but we cannot be completely satisfied when our opponents have these sorts of problems. From around half-distance, when our sister car encountered a small issue, we only had to avoid contact and finish the race. It’s always a bit disappointing to win like this, but the result is nevertheless very significant.”
With temperatures remaining cool early in the week the heat began to rise at Interlagos as the weekend progressed.
“We weren’t always at the front: we worked hard and became stronger throughout the event,” said Benoît. “We really hit our stride during the final free practice session and then followed that up in qualifying and the race, but it was still very close. The #2 R18 e-tron quattro also performed well and did not achieve what it deserved. I guess Lady Luck was smiling on us this weekend! We had some small issues at Le Mans, but here our team-mates were unfortunate.
“The race conditions were very difficult, not due to the weather but because of the traffic and the grip level. The track degraded a lot and it was not easy to build a gap without getting into the marbles. On top of that, there were fierce battles in the GT and LMP2 classes which we didn’t want to interfere with. In fact, during the final laps we received a radio call from our race engineer, Leena, telling us to give a wide berth to the two GT cars fighting for their class victory!”
In the drivers’ championship standings the #1 trio have taken eight points out of the sister car’s advantage and reduced their points deficit to 22.
“This only has a small impact on us as we still need to take all remaining pole positions and race victories if we’re to have a chance of beating our friends in the #2 car,” added Benoît. “We’re going to continue with the same approach, which is to take each race as it comes without making any long-term plans. As ever, we’ll give it our all. We always put in 100% and can do no more – we are not going to change our tactics now.”
On Sunday night the celebration of another one-two finish continued late into the night for the whole Audi Sport team.
“It is not often that we can all be together,” said the Frenchman happily. “It was really great to party with all the mechanics who have done an incredible job during the pit stops. The same goes for our race engineer Leena and her assistants, and what can I say about my crew-mates?! André was again impressive here while Marcel produced two incredible stints. In fact, it’s me who worked the least!”
In just over two weeks the trio will travel to Texas where they will swap Samba for Stetsons at the inaugural 6 Hours of Circuit of the Americas (22 September). Here, Audi’s title-chasing sheriffs will have their crosshairs set on yet more silverware in the Lone Star State.