Benoit Treluyer has admitted that he stood no chance of keeping control of his Pescarolo Sport-entered Peugeot 908 ahead of the high-speed accident at Le Mans which destroyed the car and left the Frenchman lucky to escape injury.
The car had lost time in the pits early on following contact on pit-lane with the #7 works Peugeot, but Treloyer, Jean-Christophe Boullion and Simon Pagenaud found themselves running in a strong fourth place during the night time running.
However, shortly after 4am, Treluyer went off at high-speed on the run to La Chapelle with heavy contact with the barrier destroying the car, Although aided from the car by medical crews and taken to the medical centre, Treluyer escaped without injury.
“The team had called me back to the pits for a scheduled fuel stop,” he explained. “They also took the opportunity to clean out the side pods, as I was forced to put two wheels on the grass to avoid a GT2 Ferrari. While doing this, the engineers noticed the front splitter was damaged and decided to change it. I knew that the car's behaviour would change because of this and as I returned to the track, I remained cautious. The car's balance was good with a little more oversteer than before, but not too much.
“Then I started to get back into a normal rhythm but as I approached the La Forêt curves the car suddenly went light and snapped sideways. I did not have the chance to be slowed down by the gravel trap as the car took off straight away.”
Treluyer added that he was at a loss to explain what had caused the incident.
“I don't know what happened,” he continued. “Maybe I should have been more cautious for another lap but the car's behaviour was fine.
“We were pacing ourselves nicely. Our pace wasn't as high as the official Peugeots. We were happy playing the waiting game. Despite the contact with the #7 Peugeot in the pits at the beginning of the race, which cost us a lap and a half, a place on the podium was still a realistic opportunity.
“We were in fourth after 13 hours of racing and we could maintain a good, consistent pace between 3m29s and 3m33s, depending on the traffic. I feel very sorry for the team who may not be given the same opportunity again, for the mechanics who worked hard all year, for Peugeot who had believed in us and for the sponsors.”
Team boss Henri Pescarolo admitted there was understandable disappointment in the way the team's challenge with the Peugeot had come to an end, although he was quick to point out that the fact Treluyer had escaped injury was the most important factor.
“Until 4:03am on Sunday morning, the team were following the progress of our cars with great enthusiasm,” he said. “Our 908 HDI FAP was then in fourth place with the podium in sight. Jean-Christophe Boullion, who had started the race, Simon Pagenaud and Benoit Treluyer demonstrated themselves to be just as capable as that of the official team's drivers.
“Unfortunately, in the middle of the night, Benoit suddenly left the track and violently hit the railings at Tertre Rouge, for reasons that are still unclear. The impact was very violent, but luckily Benoît came out unhurt. Benoit was fine, but the accident was a huge disappointment for the whole team...”