V8 Supercars team owner Garry Rogers has earned a reputation for making some bold decisions over his many years at the helm of his eponymous team, but few would have expected that he’d pick none other than former sports car and DTM racer Alexandre Prémat to partner Michael Caruso for the 2012 championship season.
The 29-year-old Frenchman will take over the #33 Holden Commodore previously driven by Lee Holdsworth, who defected to Stone Brothers Racing Ford during the off-season.
Premat has a distinguished pedigree in closed-cockpit racing, winning the 2008 Le Mans Series championship with Audi. It was with the German carmaker that he also competed at the Le Mans 24 Hours and in the DTM championship for four seasons, although his spell in Germany’s premier tin-top series came to a halt after a sequence of crashes.
And Prémat is no slouch in open-wheel competition either. A former winner of the Macau Formula 3 Grand Prix, he also finished third overall in the 2006 GP2 championship standings, and partnered Nicolas Lapierre to help Team France dominate the 2005/6 A1GP championship.
He becomes the first ‘overseas’ driver to compete full-time in the championship since Brazil’s Max Wilson, who raced in the championship between 2002-8.
“Some will see it as a shock and a major risk but I really think he is the man for the job,” team owner Rogers told Sydney’s Daily Telegraph newspaper.
“I did a lot of thinking and research and I just thought I couldn’t take the risk of putting another young bloke in. I needed experience.
“My team has had a lot of success with our young driver program over the years but you no longer can afford the time and results that come with the inexperienced drivers. You need drivers who have a solid knowledge of the technical attributes of these cars and who are able to drive them very fast every lap.”