Premat: I’m not turning my back on V8s

Tom Howard

Thursday 9th January, 2014 - 12:05pm

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Alexandre Premat

Alexandre Premat

Alexandre Premat says he does not intend to abandon future V8 Supercars plans following his split with Garry Rogers Motorsport.

The Frenchman formally announced this week that he will no longer drive for the GRM team despite being contracted with the outfit until the end of the 2014 season.

Instead, he will end his two-year stay in V8 Supercars early and move back to Europe in a bid to resume his sportscar racing career.

Speedcafe.com has learned that the decision had been brewing since the Gold Coast 600 in October when Premat and team owner Garry Rogers discussed the driver’s contract.

The 31-year-old former Le Mans Series champion struggled for consistency in V8 Supercars and was overshadowed by his star rookie team-mate Scott McLaughlin last year.

However, he did show flashes of pace throughout a difficult 2013 season but mechanical issues and accidents robbed the former DTM star of strong finishes.

A fourth in the opening leg of the Clipsal 500 and a place in the Top 10 Shootout at Bathurst this year were ultimately his best results.

Premat finished 27th overall in his maiden season in 2012, improving to 19th in 2013.

Premat believes he deserved another year in the championship and although he has no desire of a full-time championship return in the near future, he is actively making himself available for an enduro drive.

“We had some discussions between Garry and myself about the contract agreements for 2014 but I decided to leave the team for different reasons but I cannot say why.

“At Bathurst Garry said he wanted me in the team for 2014 but we had a discussion after Gold Coast and we decided more or less then that we would not continue together in 2014.

“Its going to be a big move back to Europe but a happy move.

“I have had two good years living in Australia and the Australian fans have been excellent.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time in V8 Supercars. Its been a really strong championship and has been so competitive.

“But every time I was in a position to get on the podium like at Pukekohe and Bathurst there was some issue with the car. This is life and this is motor racing.

“There are no seats available for 2014 or 2015 really.

“It is not my goal or my aim to comeback to the full V8 Supercar series in 2014 or 2015 but I definitely want to come back to do the enduro events.

Premat also admitted that the GRM team’s transformation into the all new Volvo Polestar Racing entry for 2014 played some part in his decision to leave.

He expects the team will have a challenging year as they develop the all-new S60 V8 Supercar.

“I’m not really sad to miss the 2014 V8 Supercar season with Volvo this year because it will be a hard year for the team,” added Premat.

“We have seen with Nissan and Mercedes (Erebus), who have been pretty strong in Europe, they found it pretty difficult to perform in Australia in V8 Supercars last year.

“To have a third year and another really hard year wouldn’t benefit me.”

“However, I wish all the team and my team mate Scott McLaughlin all the best for the future.”

It is understood Premat will be talking to several teams in the next two weeks in regard to a return to top level sportscar racing in the World Endurance Championship.

Close friend and former Audi DTM team mate Mattias Ekstrom felt Premat deserved another season in V8 Supercars, but is confident he will bounce back in Europe.

“I know Alex well. When I met him in Australia he told me he enjoyed V8 Supercars a lot and I think he is one European guys that did pretty well,” Ekstrom told speedcafe.com

“I think Europeans deserve more time to do V8 Supercars because of the tracks and the cars are pretty different to those in Europe. Its sad that he is leaving but I’m sure he will find a drive elsewhere.”

The identity of Premat’s replacement at GRM is yet to be revealed.

Speculation indicates that one of the two Swedish works drivers Robert Dahlgren or Thed Bjork are strongly fancied to fill the vacant seat.

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