After a learning year in GT racing, triple Le Mans 24 Hours winner and 2012 FIA World Endurance Champion Benoît Tréluyer will return to the Andros Trophy with an Audi A1 Quattro and a brand new team.
Following a successful first experience last year with W Racing Team, the French endurance ace heads to the Andros Trophy this winter with strong ambitions.
Tréluyer will spearhead Belgian team ComToYou Racing’s assault on the ice. The Waterloo-based squad are managed by Jean-Michel Baert and will be making their championship debut.
Whilst joining a new team may look like a gamble, it’s not as crazy as it seems, as François Verbist, Team Principal at ComToYou Racing - which shone in this season’s TCR International Series with two Audi RS3 LMS cars - is the son of WRT founder René Verbist.
For this new challenge, the team has been strengthened with the addition of experienced ice-racing mechanics and engineers.
Benoît, who will share his Audi with Lionel Daziano - while Nathanaël Berthon and Louis Gervoson will occupy a second car - is planning to use his 2016/17 experience to challenge ice specialists such as Jean-Baptiste Dubourg, Franck Lagorce and Benjamin Rivière.
“Last year, I had to learn a lot of parameters, four-wheel steering, entering corners in reverse and so on,” notes the Audi Driver. “I was quite far off the pace in qualifying during the first round, but by the second weekend in Andorra I was fighting for the super pole.”
“After this I missed one race and it cut my rhythm. In fact, as usual with motorsport, you are always a good student at the beginning and learn quickly. After that, you try harder and enter a difficult period. You think that you’ve got it and want to push further, but this is when disaster strikes.
“Last year for example, I thought I was going to be competitive on slower, more technical layouts, but the complete opposite happened. This year I know my weak points and I will work on them.”
Benoît discovered the Andros Trophy in 2014, where he took part in the Lans-en-Vercors round of the Electric Andros Championship; since then he’s continued to learn all the key skills to race on ice.
“In order to be quick, you need to find good traction,” said Tréluyer. “It is important to exit well from corners, so you need to be positioned properly on the entry. This means evaluating the quantity of snow and ice.
“More important is entering the corners backwards, if you accelerate facing the wrong way, you brake! This is achieved by playing with the clutch using your left foot.”
The Andros Trophy is, before anything else, a family, which organiser Max Mamers gets together once a year, creating a completely unique world where drivers are specially invited.
“The Andros Trophy is the whole package,” laughs Benoît, who is used to racing at some of the world’s top circuits. “There is the atmosphere, sliding on the ice, and the short tracks that are very close to the public.
“In addition to this you need to be very technical and well prepared – taking care of the spikes and the tyres. It’s great fun and there is plenty of action. Qualifying is done over the sum of four flying laps, then there is a super pole with the five fastest drivers.”
“It is a very specific exercise where you need to deliver the perfect lap. Achieving this causes you to explode with joy behind your visor!”
The championship takes competitors from Val Thorens to Andorra, via Alpe d’Huez, the season split by the Christmas period, before continuing in 2018.
At the beginning of January, Benoît will then have an idea about his chances of winning the title, even if for the moment his objectives are purely on achieving race victories.
“I know that it is going to be difficult to win the championship as early as the second season, but I want to fight for podiums and wins,” he said. “Last year my target was to score some podiums and win a race. I managed some top-threes but did not clinch a victory. I had the potential to achieve it, but I got a bit lost towards the end of the season and missed some opportunities.
“This year I know how to manage weekends and I want to climb on the top step of the podium.”
Another target for Benoît will be to beat his 2017 Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup team-mate Berthon, who had a breakthrough campaign in the Andros Trophy last year. In order to topple the likes of Dubourg, Lagorce and Rivière, the Frenchman will need to show his inner fire on the ice!
2017/18 Andros Trophy calendar:
Val Thorens: 2/3 December
Alpe d’Huez: 8/9 December
Andorra: 15/16 December
Isola 2000: 12/13 January
Serre Chevalier: 20/21 January
Lans en Vercors: 26/27 January
Super Besse: 3 February