Primat's Pescarolo takes fight to Peugeot at Monza
Harold Primat, with co-driver Christophe Tinseau, took a fine fourth place finish at Monza on Sunday during an excellent debut for double-champions Pescarolo Sport in the opening round of the 2007 Le Mans Series. The result was made even more impressive as the race marked Primat's first ever appearance at the high-speed Italian circuit.
The Geneva-based driver had targeted a top-five finish after Saturday's qualifying, which saw Tinseau put the car 8th on the grid. During the race the pair produced consistently quick lap-times and, coupled with the superb reliability of the Pescarolo-Judd 01, climbed the field to third place before fighting the second Peugeot car to the wire for the final podium position.
With the two diesel-powered works Peugeot 908s enjoying a 3 to 4 second a lap advantage due to the regulations surrounding diesel power, Pescarolo Sport ran second and third after the Peugeot of Pedro Lamy and Stephane Sarrazin suffered a gearbox problem. However a radio problem cost Primat and Tinseau as the car missed the chance to pit during a safety car period, losing one lap and the chance at the finish.
Despite narrowly missing the podium, Primat was still delighted with the performance. "Things are looking good. To finish fourth in our first race is a great result. We were third for a long time after one of the Peugeots was stuck in first gear for a while. It's a shame we couldn't stay there, but it proved to be impossible because Peugeot's technical advantage meant they just had way too much power for us to fight them off as they climbed back up the field. However, to beat all the other teams and finish fourth is very pleasing."
Having never raced at Monza before Harold took an instant liking to the famous venue. "It's a really fun circuit to drive," he said. "It takes a little bit of time to get used to the speed of the place and finding your braking points when you're travelling at 300kph, but after a few laps it wasn't a problem and I really enjoyed it. I'm still not completely comfortable inside the car and we must continue to work to improve that situation for the next few races so that I'll be able to push the car a bit more."
Primat's co-driver Christophe Tinseau admitted the car had one or two minor problems during the race, making fourth an even more impressive achievement. "During the first stint we had a little problem with the tyres although the second stint was very good in terms of set up. We overtook several cars and improved our position to fourth. At the end of my second stint Harold maintained the pace, but then we had a problem with a bent steering rod which affected the car's balance. To finish fourth, and second of the non-diesel cars, is pretty good."
Team Boss Henri Pescarolo was thrilled with his team's performance: "The team had a fantastic race at Monza and we will continue to fight throughout the season. We will have a new aerodynamic package available on car 16 at Valencia on 6th May and that should help us close the gap to Peugeot. He also added how impressed he'd been with the performance of Primat and Tinseau at the wheel of car 17. "For his first race in the Le Mans Series with the new Pescarolo 01 I thought Harold's performance at Monza was particularly brilliant. During his stint he was on the pace of the fastest drivers without making any mistakes and, along with his team-mate Christophe Tinseau, was unfortunate to narrowly miss the podium."