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Apr 24, 2014 - 09:09 PM
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Every Cloud Has A Silver(Stone) Lining
Posted by: newsla on Apr 24, 2014 - 09:08 PM
Le Mans News
Every Cloud Has A Silver(Stone) Lining


The World Endurance Championship opener at Silverstone turned out to be a missed opportunity for Benoît Tréluyer and Audi Sport team-mates Marcel Fässler and André Lotterer last weekend (April 19/20), although they continued to amass experience with the new R18 e-tron quattro. The trio have already set their sights on round two at Spa-Francorchamps, where they hope to bounce back in style.

 

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On lap 94 Benoît was pushing hard to chase down the third-placed Porsche of Brendon Hartley after the 2012 title-winning trio had already suffered their share of bad luck. In the early stages Lotterer lost significant time, courtesy of using slick tyres on a sodden track, which Benoît was keen to recover. As he entered Copse, the two-time Le Mans winner mounted the outside kerb in order to maximise his speed through turn nine – similar to every lap previously – but which on this occasion sent him into the inside Armco barrier.

“There is usually plenty of grip!” Benoît mused. “I made a mistake but we’re going to carefully examine the data. Track conditions were tricky during my stint, although they were far worse for André.

“When you see the video, it’s clear that I was riding the kerb identically to every lap beforehand, which wasn’t affecting the balance whatsoever, so I’m unsure of the cause. I’m not trying to shy away from taking responsibility, but this is a bizarre accident. There’s a high probability that it’s completely my fault, although we need to analyse every aspect to be sure.”

After hitting the barriers, Benoît did his utmost to bring the car back to the pits, earning the Frenchman respect and admiration from the fans.

“I really appreciated all the messages I received over Twitter, but I was only doing my job,” he admitted. “I did everything possible, but in the end I had to accept the situation. It was extremely difficult to retire because I badly wanted to finish the race. When I realised the car could go no further, I reluctantly threw in the towel. The support from the fans feels amazing, especially during difficult moments like these. It’s a massive boost, not only for myself but also for the entire Audi Sport team.”

Gambling on slick tyres was a bold but ultimately unrewarding move from the Ingolstadt squad as heavy rain continued to fall throughout the race. Lucas di Grassi speared into the barriers exiting Woodcote, while Lotterer struggled to keep the sister Audi on track. The German was nevertheless able to continue. Benoît was not so lucky.

“I am sincerely sorry for the team because our pace and performance was encouraging,” the Frenchman sighed. “The three LMP1 manufacturers have done an amazing job. We’ve all opted to pursue different technical and design concepts, yet monopolised the first three grid positions, so there’s a lot of promise for this year’s championship. The start proved genuinely exciting, although the tricky weather conditions weren’t favourable as everyone is still acclimatising to the new regulations, so we aren’t 100% up to speed yet.”

As frustrating as the weekend proved for Benoît and Audi Sport, there are many positives to take from the first event of the year. “We were catching the Porsche extremely quickly when I crashed,” Benoît explained. “I had already overtaken the #7 Toyota during my stint and a podium finish was certainly on the cards. We’re now going to take what we’ve learned from Silverstone and maximise our preparation before Spa. After such a difficult event I’m sorry the guys won’t have the opportunity to see their loved ones, but we all share the same burning desire to bounce back strongly.”

Round two of the FIA World Endurance Championship – the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps – takes place on May 2/3. It will be broadcast live on Motors TV, Eurosport, and the official FIA WEC website.

6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps schedule:

Friday 2 May
Free Practice 1: 09:00
Free Practice 2: 14:15
Qualifying: 19:20

Saturday 3 May
Race: 14:30


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