In the opening round of the European Le Mans Series at Circuit Paul Ricard, PREMA took a sensational victory in the 4 Hours of Le Castellet. Lorenzo Colombo, Ferdinand Habsburg and Louis Delétraz delivered a smashing performance to give the team its first win in the Endurance race.
Colombo, drafted earlier this week to replace the injured Juan Manuel Correa, started from P3 on the grid to make his first rolling start. The Italian held onto P3 during the first stint and navigated several neutralizations and safety car situations. During the first lap of pit stops he secured a spot in P2. With another consistent run, he later handed the #9 Oreca 07 LMP2 race car to Habsburg in a great position.
The Austrian moved up to P1 during the driver change stops and soon hit a huge gap with a spectacular ride. Close contact and traffic regrouped the pack, but Habsburg defended well against the daring attack of his closest competitor and regained valuable ground before the final driver change occurred.
Delétraz, who had qualified the car on Saturday, jumped in for the final segment with just over an hour to go. The Swiss came back on track behind a contender with a different strategy and made an aggressive move into Signes to retake P1, maximize his performance and even set the fastest lap of the race.
In the final stint, a late-stopping car came close to the front, but Delétraz kept pushing, aware that strategy would pay off. In the end, he finally crossed the finish line by more than 10 seconds.
For the PREMA team, it was the first win in endurance racing, only at the second start after the 1000 Miles of Sebring WEC event.
Lorenzo Colombo: “Great debut for the whole team and also for me. It’s been an incredible race from the start and I didn’t expect to have so many full-course yellows and safety cars. It was also my first single-seater rolling start “I just tried to manage my tires and fuel in the best possible way with advice from the team. Then we jumped from P3 to P1 with Ferdinand and we kept our position after that. We created a great chemistry between teammates and then everything was fine was behind the scenes, you get these kinds of results.”
Louis Deletraz: “There was quite a bit of pressure for me and the team when I got in the car because of the close competition, but we didn’t make any mistakes. After the pit stop I knew the car had to come in at the front, but I had Panis’s Racing was very close I had to pass so I saw an opportunity and went for it During the race we had to take good care of the front left tires but we managed them well In the end the car was fast and we were able to cut a gap to to be a little more comfortable. It always looks easy from the outside, never from the inside, but we had a really strong weekend. I’m very proud of the team because they have been working day and night on this program for the last three months. It’s a great day for all of us and a big thank you to everyone involved and my two teammates.”
Ferdinand Habsburg: “Being part of the first victory for PREMA in P2 makes me very happy. Years ago I dreamed of racing for this team, and now we won on our debut. Of course Louis and I have had a lot of races together. “We’ve fought a lot and pushed each other to the next level, while Lorenzo is such a great guy, made no mistakes. Now we go to the home race at Imola with high expectations and a good feeling. Some consistency now gives us a good chance for the rest of the season.”