A fitting conclusion for Audi
6 Hours of Bahrain – Round 9/9
Although they knew they had a chance of winning the 6 Hours of Bahrain, Benoît Tréluyer, Marcel Fässler and André Lotterer are delighted with second place and the Audi Sport one-two in its final FIA World Endurance Championship outing (November 17-19). On the podium for the last time, the magnificent trio beautifully drew a close to their impressive journey with the sportscar heavyweight.
Two Constructors’ World Championships, 17 wins in WEC, 13 victories at the Le Mans 24 Hours in the last 18 editions, Audi Sport bowed out in the best possible way in Bahrain, with a dominant one-two!
“This is the result we were hoping for, leaving at the top after a great weekend that we had been waiting for since the start of the season,” reflected Benoît. “We were in the lead, but a wheel gun broke while the team were changing the tyres. We kept a good pace and the three of us were setting nearly identical lap times. Marcel did an amazing job at the start of the race, with some crazy overtaking manoeuvres. André also drove superbly during his stints. Hats off to Lucas (Di Grassi) in the #8 car, he was super fast during the entire weekend.
“On the downside there was a full course yellow which didn’t help us. Despite losing more time, we only finished twenty seconds behind the sister car, which shows how solid we were. Thanks to the pole position and victory, the #8 Audi ended up second in the Drivers’ championship and this really justifies how strong the car is. For sure, Marcel, André and I would have liked the win, but Lucas, Loïc (Duval) and Oliver (Jarvis) have won fair and square, so congratulations to them. I think all of us can be proud of what we achieved.
“We dedicate this result to Doctor Ullrich and the whole team who have worked non-stop and are now in a difficult position. All of us have formed a strong relationship, so to end like this is simply fantastic.”
During this highly emotional weekend, all of the team members were united as ever and this was no small feat.
“This is what always made Doctor Ullrich and his team so successful,” explained the three-times Le Mans winner. “Even in extreme conditions, no one gave up. This race is the defining characteristic of what Audi has been during all these years. We never threw the towel until the last breath! For us drivers, it was the least we could do for the young crew of mechanics who have worked tirelessly through this challenging season. They have ended the programme on a high, which is fantastic.”
In the #7 Audi R18 cockpit, Benoît was fully focused on his driving and aiming for the victory, which for a long time looked like a possibility.
“When I came back into the pits in Shanghai, I told myself that it was the penultimate time I would be handing the car to Marcel, who was always after me in the race stints,” continued Benoît. “This time, I was so flat out and in the zone, that I didn’t think about it. There was a small part of my brain that reminded me it was the last race, but I had too many questions in mind when I pitted: how much time had we lost during the full course yellow period? Is it still possible for us to win? I had so many things on my mind that my final lap did not feel like a final lap. I can be quite emotional, so the distractions were good. I remained focused until the chequered flag, and it is only at that moment that we started to hug each other.
“That’s when it truly hit me. I was with André on the pitwall, we knew it was the last time so it was quite moving. We really missed Marcel at that time, as he was still in the car, so we went up the pit lane to meet him and it was a moment which will remain in our memories forever. All of the other team members applauded us, Porsche, Toyota, everyone. I saw some people who had helped me during my career, Philippe Sinault, Jean-Pierre Talent, David my chief mechanic, and all the Signature-Alpine team. I think that I felt even more emotional than if I had driven the car across the line.”
The 2012 World Champion could finally let out the emotions that had been building up to this moment: “Since the announcement I have tried not to think about this moment too much,” he explained, with a lump in his throat, “but when the race was finished, I just let go. I couldn’t contain my emotions. The winter is going to be difficult, but I have the advantage of competing in the Andros Trophy with WRT (W Racing Team), which will help me take my mind off things. This is a different experience for me and I‘m very keen about it.”
Benoît´s plan for the future is to remain within the Audi family. “I have had some great moments as a racing driver, the three victories at Le Mans with Audi come to mind, but also competing for Nissan in Japan before returning to Europe with Audi,” added the Frenchman. “My team-mates and I have been living a dream these past seven years and I cannot see myself leaving. I have worked with people I am keen to continue collaborating with. They have the same passion and desire to try out new things as I do. We have been together on the LMP programme, but there are still many avenues we are yet to explore!”
The first Andros Trophy round will be in the Val Thorens ski resort (3rd-4th December), where Benoît will continue his motorsports journey.