Alexandre Prémat’s seemingly short-lived V8 Supercars Championship career has been given a lifeline after Garry Rogers Motorsport confirmed it would continue to run the Frenchman for a second year in the championship.
After some quick but wild years spent in the DTM championship, Prémat switched to V8 Supercars competition on a three-year deal with GRM as the series’ first full-time international driver since Brazilian F1 protégé Max Wilson in 2007.
But the partnership seemed to turn sour rather quickly. Prémat languished in the lower reaches of the field and a lacklustre performance at the Bathurst 1000 saw him dropped by the team for the next round, the ArmorAll Gold Coast 600, which had tongues wagging that he was set for the scrapheap.
Perhaps the sidelining did the trick, for he returned to the rest of the calendar seemingly reinvigorated, delivering vastly improved performances next time out at Abu Dhabi and a sensational top-ten qualifying effort at the Sydney Olympic Park finale.
Prémat looked on course for a top-five finish in the opening race – perhaps even a podium – until his cool suit failed in the boiling conditions, and he was forced to retire with severe dehydration and heat stress.
The performance proved the deciding factor in team founder Garry Rogers’ decision to keep him on board for another year as team-mate to series debutant Scott McLaughlin.
“There was no doubt that he has the skills, but we didn’t get the best out of [Alexandre],” Rogers said.
“I was disappointed, based on his history we believed he could do better. From Abu Dhabi on he started to hit his straps.
“I was deciding what do with the driver line up (and) his qualifying and racing performance in Sydney was as good as many who have been driving the cars for a number of years. I decided I had invested a lot in him and he has invested in us, moving his family over to Australia, we can get more out of him and more results like Sydney.”
In turn, Prémat expressed his delight as being re-signed and stated his 2013 target was a top-ten championship finish, hoping that the new ‘Car of the Future’ regulations will help him gain ground on the category’s established racers.
“Everyone will be learning from zero and we will be doing the same. I want to start the year as I finished in 2012 and I’m looking forward to the new season,” he said.