French Audi racer Benoît Tréluyer has done it all. Not only has he won the 24 Hours of Le Mans three times but he’s a Super GT champion as well. In the last few years Tréluyer has taken a background role in motorsport but that doesn’t mean he’s been taking it slowly. With Motul as a partner the Frenchman opened his new workshop and car enthusiast club Trajectus in the South of France. Naturally, we had to find out more.
Benoît, how have you been dealing with confinement in France?
To be honest I live in a place where I have a lot of space and a nice garden, so it hasn’t been all that difficult. My son and I share a passion for mountain biking, so we built some trails in the garden and had our bit of fun here.
A lot of your colleagues have been heavily involved in sim racing. Have you been looking in this direction as well?
Yes, I’ve been doing a lot of sim racing in the past and I really enjoy it. However, I haven’t been involved in the current series because, in the last two months, I’ve been very busy setting up my new business. That being said, our team has just been accepted in the virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans. I’m really looking forward to doing that. I’ve been missing my sim.
I want to take you back to the end of last year, the DTM/Super GT dream race. You were maybe the ultimate contender having experienced both. What was it like?
It was an amazing experience. I’ve been lucky to have experienced both in the past as I was Super GT champion in 2008, driving a Motul Nissan actually. It was a great feeling to be back at the Fuji racetrack, which is definitely one of my favourites. On top of that, the Japanese fans are absolutely crazy about motorsport so the whole atmosphere was just perfect. For me it was a dream race as well.
DTM and Super GT share the same set of regulations. Do you think Super GT cars could save the struggling DTM?
It could be a solution and it would make for some interesting racing. At the moment both championships face similar challenges. They’re both very expensive competitions to compete in and they run just in a single market. I see a future for a world championship with private teams, with the help from the Japanese manufacturers, maybe.
Looking back at your victories in LeMans, as a Frenchman how significant was that?
For me LeMans has always been a very local event. I grew up about fifty kilometres from there and my father would take me to races. So, to be there during my first race in 2002, driving the Dodge Viper for a French team, was an incredible experience. There is nothing like it. I still remember finishing on the podium and driving into the pitlane waving the French flag. It gave me goose bumps.
You participated countless times in LeMans. What was your favourite memory?
I think my favourite memory is quite well known. It was in 2011, a tough year for Audi. It was morning and our car was the only Audi still running. We were battling the Peugeots all through the night, and in the morning I had on opportunity to overtake at “Karting”. That was a bit sketchy, but I had been looking at the Peugeot all night long and I knew that place was my only opportunity. Just at that moment a slower GT car appeared between us and didn’t move, so I had to improvise… across the grass.
We’ve heard you’re building a dream workshop in the South of France? What's the story behind it?
At the moment I’m still a reserve and development driver for Audi, but aside from that I had a long-time dream of starting a place where I can store and maintain classic cars as well as have our own club of passionate car enthusiasts. That’s exactly what Trajectus is becoming. Unfortunately, we opened just three days prior to the lockdown so we’re still waiting for some things to be finished. But so far, I’m really happy with the result
Are you a tinkerer? Do you like to get your hands dirty?
Oh yes, especially when working on Trajectus. I should spend more time in the office, but I find myself being in the shop way more working with the mechanic. Even when I was racing LMP1s I’d sit down with the mechanics and engineers to work with the cars. I always wanted to understand the mechanisms in the car and how they are built. That way you can set up the car better and potentially understand problems quicker, when they arise.
For your new project you have teamed up with Motul. What does the brand mean to you? How significant is this partnership?
My entire career I’ve used Motul. In my bikes, karts and personal cars. Everywhere. I have two brands I’ve stuck with my entire life and that’s Arai helmets and Motul oil. So, when starting Trajectus Motul was the first on my list to call. I’ve always been very happy with their products and service and I was very excited to use the car care products in my shop as well.
© Picture credits: Andre Lotterer @leicapilot, Nissan Factory, Benoît Treluyer