6 Hours Of Fuji - FIA World Endurance Championship, Round 6. Such A Shame For The Fans
By Mel Fabrikant Tuesday, October 22, 2013, 03:49 PM EDT
1. Wurz/Lapierre/Nakajima (Toyota)
2. Kristensen/McNish/Duval (Audi)
3. Belicchi/Beche (Rebellion-Lola)
26. Treluyer/Fassler/Lotterer (Audi)
FIA WEC Drivers' Points:
1. Kristensen/McNish/Duval (Audi) 147
2. Treluyer/Fassler/Lotterer (Audi) 106.25
3. Sarrazin/Davidson/Buemi (Toyota) 81.25
Next Race: Shanghai Int. Circuit
China, November 9
Length: 3.387 miles / 5.451 kms
Benoit's 2012 result: 3rd
Fuji’s rain-shortened round of the FIA World Endurance Championship turned out to be a painful, lengthy procession behind the safety car. Benoît Tréluyer helped Audi secure another constructors’ championship, but the German manufacturer will hope for better weather in Shanghai in order to celebrate in style.
It all started so well for Benoît and his team-mates Marcel Fässler and André Lotterer at Fuji Speedway. The Frenchman, who lived in Japan for ten years, and his German co-driver who still races there, again witnessed just how popular they are in the Land of the Rising Sun. With so many Japanese fans cheering them on, the dynamic duo duly put their #1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro on pole position in front of their ‘home’ crowd during Saturday’s qualifying session.
“We weren’t at our best during the free practice,” explains Benoît. “Fuji Speedway is a very particular track where you need good mechanical grip and downforce in the last sector, but also top speed and great balance to go through the fast turns. In qualifying we came up with a solution that was a combination of all the things we tried in free practice; you know, the kind of ‘magic recipe’ that never usually works. Only this time it paid off handsomely. All the credit goes to our engineers Leena and Justin who know the car like the back of their hands and understand exactly how to quantify and translate our feedback. Against all odds we entered the qualifying session with a car that was perfectly set up. André did a great job by recording his two best times on his first two laps. This gave me the opportunity to do a short run of three flying laps using tyres that were still good enough. Once again, it was a great team effort and we should not forget Marcel, who drove brilliant long stints. This enabled us to have a good insight into tyre wear. In short, we were pretty confident ahead of the race.”
Unfortunately, the sacred Mount Fuji awoke under heavy rain on Sunday morning, and the outcome of the day soon became obvious. The drivers started the race behind the Safety Car and crossed the finish line in similar fashion after a lengthy caution period and several red flags.
“The green flag was never waved so there was no actual racing,” continued the Frenchman. “We would have easily won from pole had we not had to stop for an engine pick-up problem. This technical glitch handed victory to Toyota, but they were equally frustrated not to be able to fight on track. It really was a shame for both teams. All the ingredients were there to have a good race and put on a great show for the fans. We can’t blame anyone though. It would have been too dangerous for the drivers if the Safety Car had come in and let us race; the stewards made the right decision as reason prevailed. I felt utterly disappointed for the fans. They all wrapped up in their raincoats while eating noodles. They could have left the circuit but they stayed in the grandstands, hoping that the race would eventually start. And after the chequered flag they were still walking up and down the paddock to meet us. One cannot emphasize enough how amazing Japanese fans are. I do miss them a lot!”
Only half points were awarded at the end of what turned into an anti-climax, but that was still enough for Audi to clinch the 2013 manufacturers’ title.
“This is a well-deserved title, even though it rained on our parade,” Benoît admits. “We still have two races to celebrate in style and keep attracting new fans to the booming World Endurance Championship. In the drivers’ standings, we may have lost another small handful of points but we are still in the fight. As long as it’s not mathematically over we won’t give up. We have enjoyed our fair share of success over the past two seasons. This year proved trickier as many technical mishaps have cast a shadow over our performance. But every cloud has a silver lining, doesn’t it?”
For more information about Benoit please visit www.benoittreluyer.com.