It was a productive return to Circuit de la Sarthe for 2011 Le Mans 24 Hours winner Benoît Tréluyer at the weekend. In fact the Frenchman would have struggled to hope for better preparation as he targets a second straight victory in less than a fortnight’s time.
But despite the encouraging performance, Tréluyer is taking nothing for granted. While not his style, it’s also because he’s well aware that recording the second fastest time during Sunday’s Official Test Day aboard the #1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro is only worth so much, even if it appears to confirm the car’s hybrid technology is ready to win on June 16/17.
“We weren’t aiming to chase the fastest time but it is nevertheless pleasing to finish near the top of the timesheets without really exploring outright performance,” revealed Benoît at the end of the day.“Our main goal was to evaluate as many set-up options as possible with the pair of R18 e-tron quattros and two R18 Ultras in order to find solutions for addressing any possible problems, however small, that can occur during such a long race. We sent the car out and identified what was and wasn’t working well according to each area tested. That allowed us to find the correct way forward should we want more performance, less tyre wear, etc. We went through a large number of set-ups that will be useful depending on race-day circumstances.”
Having arrived with a pre-determined work plan, Benoît – along with team-mates André Lotterer and Marcel Fassler – completed their programme by making progressive adjustments in a serene, efficient and relaxed manner; the perfect ingredients required to enjoy a successful Le Mans 24 Hours.
“In the morning we each took turns behind the wheel. First Marcel, then André and finally I all completed full double stints that included set-up changes between them. During the afternoon André followed my direction after two further stints, before Marcel completed the rest of the session, which included numerous red flags. Despite that he was able to try out further adjustments. We therefore have a complete range to now play with.”
The implications of a successful Le Mans test are not lost on Benoît or his colleagues who know, if their interpretation proves as accurate as last year, that any result is possible.
“We already had a good feeling before the Test Day but it is even better now,” enthused the Alençon native. “The hybrid system works perfectly and the car is easy to drive. So we are well prepared. There are no negatives, only positives!”
Following a detailed debrief with all of Audi’s drivers and engineers on Monday, Benoît will travel to Paris for the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros where, on Tuesday, he will be the guest of French television channel France 2. “While I’m not a true tennis fan, I am nevertheless always impressed by professional sports. I am too focused on my own sport to closely follow what’s going on in others but I love to watch basketball and such like. Tuesday promises to be a great experience.”
After that, Benoît travels to the South of France for a few days of relaxation and family time before heading to Le Mans for the weekend. At that moment, the final countdown will have already begun…