French V8 import Alexandre Premat says that he is impressed with the level of respect shown between Australia’s V8 Supercars drivers.
Garry Rogers Motorsport’s new signing made a solid, if unspectacular, debut at the weekend’s Clipsal 500, finishing both races inside the top 20.
He currently sits 18th in the V8 Supercars Championship.
According to the former DTM, sportscar and open-wheel ace, one of the standout features of the V8 class is its outstanding sportsmanship.
“Compared to Europe, the drivers are really very fair,” Premat told Speedcafe.com.
“In Europe, they are not fair, especially in qualifying. I see in Australia that there is a real respect for drivers which we don’t have in Europe.
“In Sunday’s race, I was quite fair. I left room for (Jamie) Whincup, Craig (Lowndes) and others. I knew it was important for the race.”
For more with Premat, the V8 rookie spoke to Speedcafe.com’s Grant Rowley for a brief chat …
SPEEDCAFE: To complete both races in Adelaide, without damage, must be a great feeling …
ALEXANDRE PREMAT: It was a really quick weekend! It has only been one month since I signed the contract to come drive here, so it has gone really quick.
We’ve finished the first race now. I’m happy to have finished because I need more mileage, more driving because I still do not understand the brakes and the set-up. We went through a lot of things this weekend with Richard (Hollway, GRM’s engineer). We solved many problems, and I think from Melbourne, we will start to look at many options.
It’s good. I finished 17th and 18th. Of course, I want to be in a better position, but the race is really tough on the drivers. These drivers have been here a long time in V8 Supercars – they know the track, know the car. I need time to improve.
If you look at the lap times, I was always improving, session after session, lap after lap. I think it was good. I didn’t make mistake, I didn’t crash the car, especially in Adelaide where the track is quite hard. I saw drivers with much more experience crash cars!
I think, it’s not bad. It’s not good, but it’s not bad for the beginner!
SPEEDCAFE: Is V8 Supercars what you expected?
PREMAT: I was expecting to do the best I could do. I think I’m not really happy, because I made a few mistakes, and I lost some times, definitely. Maybe I lost about 20 seconds in the whole race.
I’m happy to have finished, scored points, and I finished twice in front of Michael (Caruso), even if he had problems. It is already a good start.
SPEEDCAFE: The Clipsal 500 is one of the toughest motor races on the drivers. From a physical standpoint, how did you cope?
PREMAT: Physically, I was top fit. I did not sweat. For me, it was fairly easy compared to sportscar and DTM. That was encouraging for me to go through the 78 laps.
I’m fit and I don’t see thing being a problem for me for the rest of the season.
SPEEDCAFE: So now that you have completed your first race meeting in a V8 Supercar, what are you overall impressions of the whole V8 Supercars show?
PREMET: My impression of the show is that it’s great. If I have to compare an event to Adelaide, it’s like the 24 Hour of Le Mans. It’s a full crowd, many fans, all the people have their heart on their hand and they speak to you. It’s really cool, very friendly, I like this kind of atmosphere.
SPEEDCAFE: And what about your rivals? How did you find them?
PREMAT: They were quite good with me. I had a small contact with one of the drivers in Race 1 (Karl Reindler). He came to me and I said “sorry.” I overshot my braking, then he touched me again and he bent his suspension.
I think, with the drivers, I don’t know many of them and I need to talk to them. I don’t think it will be a problem.
In Sunday’s race, I was quite fair. I left room for (Jamie) Whincup, Craig (Lowndes) and others. I knew it was important for the race.
Compared to Europe, the drivers are really very fair. In Europe, they are not fair, especially in qualifying. I see in Australia that there is a real respect for drivers which we don’t have in Europe.