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Having grabbed the upper hand in the chase for this year’s FIA World Endurance Championship with victory in the 6 Hours of Silverstone, Audi Sport driver Benoît Tréluyer is now targeting success in his maiden race at legendary Brazilian venue Interlagos (September 15).
Last month’s triumph in Britain marked Tréluyer and his #1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro crewmates André Lotterer and Marcel Fässler’s first win for the German manufacturer away from Le Mans. Coming off the back of their second triumph at La Sarthe in June, it sets the trio up perfectly for the long-haul races that will decide this year’s drivers’ title.
The World Endurance Championship calendar visits some of the most iconic venues in motorsport and, fresh from a successful maiden race at Silverstone, Tréluyer is now preparing to make his bow at another hallowed circuit.
But location-wise the two could not be more different, with Silverstone set amongst sleepy English villages and Interlagos lying within the urban sprawl of downtown Sao Paulo. The race represents the Frenchman’s first trip to the South American nation, where one racing idol casts a particularly long shadow.
“I’ve never been to Brazil before,” explains Benoît, “but for me, it’s the country of football, samba and of course Senna. When I roll out of the pits for the first time on Thursday I’ll be thinking of this great champion. I don’t know if it will be a specific emotion, but he will certainly be on my mind.”
Interlagos’ reputation is built upon unforgettable moments in motor racing history that make it amongst the most famous circuits in the world. While this could coax Tréluyer into feeling he already knows the layout, he has nevertheless been learning the track at the wheel of his Ellip6 home simulator.
“I will go to Brazil well prepared, even if I have had less time to work in the simulator than I did ahead of Silverstone,” said Benoît. “Interlagos is an anti-clockwise track and it looks fantastic fun. We’ll need to use the four hours of free practice to hone our set-up for the curbs and hilly sections.”
Like Tréluyer, the Manufacturers’ World Championship-winning Audi squad will be making their maiden appearance at Interlagos, taking on a Toyota team that can count on the experience of numerous Formula 1 races at the circuit. “They can also rely on the knowledge of Alex Wurz, who has raced there several times in F1,” notes Tréluyer.
Audi meanwhile have added a Brazilian flavour to their team, with Lucas di Grassi joining Allan McNish and Tom Kristensen – the #1 crew’s chief World Championship rivals – in the #2 R18 Ultra at Interlagos.
But though local boy di Grassi will justifiably take the lion’s share of home support, Tréluyer and team-mate Lotterer could also be set to meet a surprising number of fans on their maiden trip to Brazil thanks to the large Japanese community found in Sao Paulo, with both men having forged their racing reputations in the land of the rising sun.
While support from the grandstands would be warmly greeted by Tréluyer and his crewmates, the back-up they will ultimately rely on comes from their Audi outfit, including engineer Leena Gade and their team of mechanics. The back-to-back Le Mans 24 Hours winners will be targeting a third successive World Endurance Championship race triumph in Brazil, though Tréluyer sees title talk as premature at this stage, focussing instead on victories.
“For the moment we’re taking it race-by-race,” the Frenchman affirmed. “The championship is of course the goal, but we’ll look at the points when the season is done. Right now, the next victory is all that matters.”
Tréluyer knows that if he and his team remain focussed and continue performing as they have done throughout the 2012 season, they will continue to break new ground the world over.
Event schedule (local time)Thursday 13 September
11.00 – 12.30: Free practice 1
15.30 – 17.00: Free practice 2Friday 14 September
09.45 – 10.45: Free practice 3
14.30 – 14.50: Qualifying LMP1 and LMP2
Saturday 15 September
08.00 – 08.20: Warm-up
12.00 – 18.00: Race
To keep up to date with Benoît on and off the circuit please visit www.benoittreluyer.com, follow him on Twitter @BenoitTreluyer and like his Facebook page.