Benoit Treluyer Names His Favorite Audi R18 Racer

    In the world of endurance racing, it’s no surprise that Benoit Treluyer’s favorite car is the Audi R18 e-tron Quattro, having won the Le Mans 24 Hours twice in cars bearing that name. However, the Frenchman’s pick from the LMP1 family is the 2015 iteration he raced to victory in the high-downforce trim at the opening round of the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) season at Silverstone.

    “That car was just crazy to drive,” says Treluyer, who shared the #7 Audi with André Lotterer and Marcel Fassler. “Silverstone is one of my best memories in terms of sensation driving; going to Becketts with the car flat everywhere was amazing.”

    Audi’s response to being beaten by Toyota to the 2014 WEC titles was to revamp its V6 turbodiesel racer, and the high-downforce update the team brought to Silverstone in 2015 made the car stand out above the R18 fleet.

    “We had a high downforce before, but that one was really high,” explains Treluyer. “We had big [air] intakes below the high beams and everybody was thinking it was for cooling the brakes, but it was not at all. It was just downforce.”

    The Fassler-Treluyer-Lotterer trio went on to win again at Spa in low-drag spec, although Treluyer says the car didn’t feel especially different.

    “At the end, they always find a solution to still have a very good downforce with low drag. It was always a compromise.”

    Despite their strong start, Porsche ultimately prevailed in the 2015 WEC season, with the German marque sweeping the remainder of the championship after its high-downforce package produced a resounding victory on debut at the Nurburgring. Treluyer and his teammates finished second in the standings, missing out on the title by just five points.

    The 2016 iteration of the R18, which had dropped the e-tron moniker, was based around another new monocoque. Treluyer believes the car had potential, especially with the move up to the 6MJ hybrid class.

    “When we got a really big hybrid, then the exit of the corner seven in Sebring was really impressive,” he reflects.

    Treluyer, Fassler and Lotterer remain the most recent of Audi’s Le Mans winners, a legacy that will likely continue for the foreseeable future as the German manufacturer has decided to focus on its impending Formula 1 project rather than a planned move into LMDh for 2023.

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