best ever finish at Le Mans 24 Hours
Having seen the chequered flag at the Le Mans 24 Hours for the first time in 2007, Geneva-based Harold Primat is raising the stakes in 2008 as he searches for his best ever finish in the 91st edition of the historic race.
A strong season in the Le Mans Series so far has reaped a podium at Monza and sees Primat and team-mate Christophe Tinseau lying sixth in the LMP1 championship race behind drivers from the works giants Audi and Peugeot and as the best-placed drivers of a petrol-powered car.
Last year at La Sarthe, while running fifth overall, an oil leak cost Primat’s #17 Pescarolo Sport 90 minutes in the pits and any chance of a podium, yet sterling work by the team and a defiant drive through the field brought them sixth in class and some very fond memories for Harold.
“I was in the car at the chequered flag and it was such a wonderful feeling,” remembered Primat. “To see the crowd cheering and all the marshals out on track applauding was incredible and made up for the disappointment of retiring with mechanical problems in ’05 and ’06. I want that feeling again this year, but hopefully this time we won’t have any issues during the race.”
The Pescarolo 01-Judd has shown solid reliability in 2008 and was sixth fastest overall, and quickest of the petrol-powered cars at the official test day, has shown the competitive pace of the car. “We’re pretty happy with the car and things are looking good,” Harold said. “There are still a few things the team are working on but I think we all feel confident going into the race. My target is always to keep improving so the aim is to finish in a better position than before. But with the strength of the grid this year, which includes three Audis and three Peugeots, another top six finish would be a great result.
“Le Mans is a very special race for me and the highlight of the season. I love everything about it and really enjoy driving here. The track is fast, but also has some challenging technical elements and is very rewarding for a driver. Add that to the atmosphere from the fans throughout the week and it’s obvious why this is such as special race.”
Harold is once again joined by regular LMS team-mate Christophe Tinseau and Nissan works driver Benoit Treluyer for the race.
Tinseau explained how he hoped the hard work at the test day will reap rewards for the race. “Everybody in the team was delighted with how things went at the test day, but we can go quicker than that. We are making a very small aerodynamic change around the nose of the car and I am certain that it will iron out any problems we have had in the past.”
Treluyer added: “I’m so happy to be back with Harold and Christophe. They’ve done a good job with the car since last year. I don’t think we can fight with Audi and Peugeot, but we can be at the front of the petrol powered cars and that has to be our target.”
Team Principal Henri Pescarolo explained the hard work in store for the team before the race. “We removed the engine, gearbox, suspension and other mechanical parts on both cars after the test day, then shook down new ones on Thursday. We’ll then rebuild the cars with the original parts for qualifying on Wednesday and Thursday of the race week, before dismantling and rebuilding again with the new parts for the race. It’s this rigorous approach which has seen us finish on the podium at Le Mans for the past three years.”