Loïc Duval has taken third place at the Dream Race in Fuji! But it was far from plain sailing for the Frenchman.
Let’s start from the beginning: Loïc had already shown that he was in top form this weekend with some promising performances in the test and free practice sessions. Then came the 37-year-olds dream lap in qualifying, which put him on the front row for the first race of the weekend.
It was clear that Loïc was among the favourites for a podium finish in race 1, but all hopes were dashed when the Audi Sport Team Phoenix driver skidded into the barriers while making his way to the grid.
Sunday gave Loïc a chance to make amends. The 2010 Super GT champion continued his excellent form from Saturday and put his Audi RS 5 DTM on the front row once again – this time on pole! “I knew that I had to make up for my mistake on Saturday, I owed it to the guys. This time I promised I would make it to the grid,” he joked.
Loïc certainly kept his promise, but once the race began the French driver was soon hit by a stroke of bad luck. A puncture in the opening stages saw him slip down the field – for the time being at least. “I was super disappointed,” the Frenchman said. “We had no choice other than to pit. That was race over as far as we were concerned, because I fell right to the back of the field and had to make up a big gap.”
But the racing gods were on Loïc’s side for once, with the unscheduled stop proving to be the slice of good fortune the Audi Sport Team Phoenix driver needed. “Because we needed to get Loïc in to change the tyre, we were once of the first teams to complete our compulsory pit stop,” explained Team Principal Ernst Moser. “That proved to be really beneficial during the subsequent safety car period. Not only did we make up the time lost due to the puncture, we also managed to move up through the field.”
Soon the podium was within touching distance for the team, and Loïc grasped the opportunity with both hands. Elbows well and truly out, the 37-year-old embarked on a spectacular battle for the lead – ultimately finishing in third position with some battle scars to show for it. The podium finish was just reward for a challenging weekend with Super GT in Japan.