Following on from his championship success in 2006, Frenchman Benoit Treluyer took an impressive victory at Fuji last weekend.

However, unlike the majority of the 2006 season, the opening race of 2007 was dry and bright as the 22 car field lined up for the start of the race. Treluyer, once again driving for the multiple championship winning, Team Impul, got a terrific start from pole position to lead fellow front row starter and team mate, Tsugio Matsuda. Behind the front two, Andre Lotterer (DHG Tom’s Lola) struck trouble on the first lap and was forced to retire with a broken clutch. Michael Krumm, making a welcome return to the series with an Impul satellite operation, almost stalled at the start and completed the first lap well down the field.

There was further drama during the opening exchanges when Ronnie Quintarelli (IngIng Lola) locked his brakes and spun. This in turn caused Yuji Tachikawa (Cerumo Lola) and Katsuyuki Hiranaka (5ZIGEN Lola) to collide. The former pitted for repairs whilst Hiranaka retired with bent front suspension.

Up at the front, Treluyer was starting to open a gap to Matsuda and the impressive rookie, Joao Paulo De Oliveira (Kondo Lola). The Brazilian, who drove for Lola in the British Formula Three series in 2003, was making his first start in Formula Nippon after a long and successful Formula Three career.

Behind these three, a group comprising of former champion Satoshi Motoyama, Loic Duval (Nakajima Lola) and Bjorn Wirdheim (Dandelion Lola), was fighting hard. However, the group was broken up on lap 15 when Motoyama pulled off the circuit with an apparent gearbox problem.

With the dominant Treluyer extending his advantage, attention turned to the entertaining battle for second place with De Oliveira putting huge pressure on Matsuda. That pressure told on lap 41 when the Impul Lola locked all-four tyres going in to the Dunlop Corner and De Oliveira dived inside to take an 2nd place.

On the same lap, Team Impul called in Treluyer for his mandatory pit stop. It was a flawless stop by his crew and one that was mirrored for Matsuda, who pitted a lap later. De Oliveira though stayed out to try and reduce Treluyer’s lead. But with worn tyres, the Brazilian could not make inroads and actually fell behind Matsuda to third place once he had pitted himself on lap 45.

Frustration appeared to be getting the better of De Oliveira as he slid his car several times over the rumble strips of the Fuji Speedway. However, the impressive Brazilian was struggling with a slipping clutch in the latter stages of the race and only just managed to hold on to the final podium position. Even this though was cruelly taken away from him at post race scrutineering when his car’s skid block failed a thickness test.

“It is disappointing to lose the podium of course,” said De Oliveira. “We had good pace today but could not catch Benoit. But I am confident in the team and the car that for the next races we can be challenging for a possible win. This is a nice start to the year for us.”

At the front, Team Impul celebrated a perfect start to the season with Treluyer leading home Matsuda for a well deserved 1-2 finish. Loic Duval inherited third place from Wirdheim and a fighting Quintarelli came through the field to claim 5th.

Like Quintarelli, Michael Krumm drove a superb recovery race to claim 6th at the flag. The experienced German was delighted with the way his race went and said. “To have finished the race in 6th is a good achievement after a 5 year brake and having scored 3 points with it is even better. The target is now to make the car as competitive in the race as it was in qualifying. I can't wait to go to Suzuka in 2 weeks.”


1. Benoit Treluyer (F) Team Impul Lola 65laps 1hr38m04.095s
2. Tsugio Matsuda (J) Team Impul Lola 65laps 1hr38m09.938s
3. Loic Duval (F) Nakajima Lola 65laps 1hr38m38.780s
4. Bjorn Wirdheim (S) Dandelion Lola 65laps 1hr38m39.796s
5. Ronnie Quintarelli (I) IngIng Lola 65laps 1hr38m45.128s
6. Michael Krumm (D) Team Impul 65laps 1hr38m56.302s
7. Tatsuya Kataoka (J) Le MAns Lola 65laps 1hr39m14.521s
8. Takhashi Kogure (J) Nakajima Lola 65laps 1hr39m15.061s
9. Masataka Yanagida (J) Kondo Lola 65laps 1hr39m22.968s
10. Naoki Yokomizo (J) IngIng Lola 65laps 1hr39m24.494s
11. Seiji Ara (J) DHG Tom's Lola 65laps 1hr39m31.155s
12. Toshihiro Kaneishi (J) Super Aguri Lola +1 lap
13. Hiroki Yoshimoto (J) 5Zigen Lola +1 lap
14. Yuji Ide (J) ARTA Lola +1 lap
15. Fabio Carboe (I) Dandelion Lola + 1 lap
16. Yuji Tachikawa (J) Cerumo Lola +1 lap
17. Kouta Sasaki (J) Cerumo Lola + 2laps
Rtd. Toranasuke Takagi (J) Le Mans Lola Spun Off
Rtd. Satoshi Motoyama (J) Team Impul Lola Gearbox
Rtd. Andre Lotterer (D) Nakajima Lola Clutch
Rtd. Katsuyuki Hiranaka (J) 5Zigen Lola Accident
Dsq. Joao Paulo De Oliverira (BR) Kondo Lola
Disqualified for violation of the skid block dimension regulation

Fastest Lap: Benoit Treluyer 1m28.795s

Form more information, please visit www.f-nippon.co.jp
Benoit Treluyer punches the air in delight as he crosses the finish line.
(Picture f-nippon.co.jp)
The top three drivers show where they finished.
(Picture f-nippon.co.jp)
Tsugio Matsuda, Benoit Treluyer and Loic Duval on the winers podium together with Team Impul Team Manager Kazuyoshi Hoshino.
(Picture f-nippon.co.jp)