Rogers: Quick thinking required for Premat’s health
Veteran team owner Garry Rogers made one of the most important strategy calls of his 50-year career in stifling heat at the Sydney Telstra 500 at Homebush in Sydney today – one which may have saved his driver from serious injury.
On lap 60 of the 74 lap race, Rogers called his French driver Alexandre Premat into pit lane after noticing a considerable drop off in lap times from his Fujitsu GRM Commodore.
Suffering from severe dehydration, Premat pulled into pit lane and after receiving water from the team, was pulled out of the car before collapsing in pit lane.
The medical team, headed by Dr Carl Le, worked to reduce Premat’s core body temperature and prevent any serious physical damage.
He was packed in ice and returned to his GRM team just before 1900.
After producing his best qualifying performance (fourth) Premat was running inside the top 10 before his declining speed.
Premat is likely to compete tomorrow, pending his recovery tonight.
Rogers says that he made the call to pull Premat into pit lane.
“We detected, going by the times, that he was starting to slow down rapidly and there was no mechanical issue,” Rogers told Melbourne’s Radio SEN Tim Hodges from pit lane.
“I thought it was best to just get him in here and get him out (of the car).
“He certainly wasn’t going to improve and it was better while he was still able to steer the car to get him to steer it in here.”
There have been several instances at the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide, run at a similar street venue to today’s race, where drivers have failed to finish the race because of medical conditions brought on by dehydration and carbon dioxide poisoning.
Paul Radisich and Rick Kelly were both competing in their first Adelaide events when they had to be helped from their cars in 1999 and 2002 respectively.
In 2005, Steve Owen was overcome while at the wheel of his Autobarn Commodore and slowed to a stop at the end of the back straight – his condition forcing him out of the following day’s final race.
“I would have thought it was 58 to 60 degrees (in the car),” said Rogers.
“We have experienced that before, Adelaide is the prime example that it does happen.
“We can’t do a lot more. They have cool suits, they train pretty hard and we have all the drink systems in the car.”
Premat’s engineer Richard Hollway said that Premat deserved to strong race result after his best performance in the category.
“He said he wasn’t feeling well and he came in, and it was a shame,” Hollway told Speedcafe.com.
“He had a really good run into the top 10. We probably would have had to stop for fuel again, but regardless, it was a good effort.
“It was terrible seeing him fall out of the car like that, but the main thing is that he is OK.”
Temperatures for tomorrow’s race are set to be less than today’s heated affair, with a few showers and predicted top of 24 degrees in Sydney.