Wednesday, April 8, 2015

FIA WEC: Benoît Tréluyer ready for Silverstone opener

Benoît Tréluyer Press Release

Benoît Tréluyer and Audi Sport’s 2015 World Endurance Championship campaign kicks off at this weekend’s 6 Hours of Silverstone (April 10-12).

Hopeful a fourth Le Mans 24 Hours win as well as his second WEC title alongside regular crew-mates and close friends Marcel Fässler and André Lotterer, Benoît’s expectations echo the Ingolstadt-based manufacturer’s confidence in the new R18 e-tron quattro.

Tréluyer faces the new season in peak physical condition after working hard over the winter break, focused on achieving his and Audi’s goals in 2015 and appreciative of the German giant’s commendable work in preparation for the championship opener.

“We’ve taken a massive step forward since the end of last season,” declared Tréluyer. “Audi has done an amazing job with the engine, aerodynamics and mechanical grip. The horsepower of our V6 TDI 4.0-litre engine has been boosted to 558bhp and we’ve moved up to the 4MJ hybrid sub-class, which should yield more substantial gains. The R18 e-tron quattro itself is completely different to last year’s model, with only the monocoque remaining unchanged.

“Audi’s history shows that the team always makes the biggest strides when they fine-tune one of their existing models. It’s amazing how they come up with such significant upgrades year in, year out. For example, they’ve done a lot of work to the car’s front end and wing, which automatically affects the rear as well. During the Prologue at Paul Ricard, I could physically feel all the improvements to the aerodynamics. I had a blast in the car; even though I’m quite familiar with the track, it was like a whole new experience behind the wheel, particularly round the corners in the first sector!”

Benoît remained fairly tight-lipped about his efforts over the past few months, perhaps out of superstition or to avoid over-confidence. “I don’t think we’ve ever been so well-prepared at the start of the season,” he said. “Marcel, André and I are in peak physical condition – in fact, this is the first time I haven’t put on any weight over the winter! We’re all pleased with how things have gone during testing so far, and feel really positive about the car.”

Although the triple Le Mans winners and 2012 WEC champions are primed to take on this year’s fight, they are equally mindful that it’s going to be the toughest challenge so far.

“The WEC has grown into an extremely competitive series,” admitted Tréluyer. “While a good result at the Le Mans 24 Hours remains our main target this season, we’re also focused on the championship. The prominence of the series has steadily risen over the past three years and I think 2015 could well be the year that WEC cements its status as a major world championship.

“It’s got all the right ingredients and if the season delivers, it will step up and secure its future. You can feel the buzz and enthusiasm around the WEC, which is a real breath of fresh air. Fans were interested last year, but now they want on-track battles and close racing. With three manufacturers fighting for the title and a fourth one about to join the fray, it’s going to be a pretty spectacular show. This championship really gets me fired up!”

For Benoît and his Audi Sport crew-mates, the British round will be a real measure of the progress that’s been made over the last 12 months.

“We’re fortunate that aerodynamics play a significant role at Silverstone,” he suggested. “The only unknown is the track surface. We struggled over the bumpy parts of the circuit last year, especially at Becketts. While this aspect has definitely improved, the question remains: is it enough? Unlike F1, there aren’t 19 or 20 races so every round counts in WEC. Silverstone was our downfall in 2014 because we didn’t score any points, so this year’s season opener is critical to our title hopes.”