Nurburg podium worth the wait -- Primat Harold Primat finished second in the latest Le Mans Series round at the Nurburgring 1000km on Sunday, securing what was his first podium for Aston Martin Racing. Here, the Swiss driver offers his thoughts...
Nurburg podium worth the wait -- Primat
Harold Primat finished second in the latest Le Mans Series round at the Nurburgring 1000km on Sunday, securing what was his first podium for Aston Martin Racing. Here, the Swiss driver offers his thoughts on both the race and how his season has gone so far.
Harold: "Well, that was certainly worth waiting for! My first podium with Aston Martin Racing at the Nurburgring last weekend has been a long time coming.
"For me personally it was a very important result because when you drive for Aston Martin you naturally want to do well. To be honest, there's been a little bit of frustration creeping in due to the missed opportunities at the first couple of rounds. It's great to finally put that right and reward the team's hard work."
Harold felt comfortable in the car all weekend, setting competitive times straight away during Friday practice, before leading Sunday's race, following changes made inside the cockpit in the fortnight between Portuguese and German rounds.
"We resolved the problems with my seating position after Portugal when I went to the factory and the guys re-moulded my seat which definitely helped in Germany.
"I was fast in all of the practice sessions on Friday, both in the wet and dry conditions. My race pace was also good and we were fighting for the win with two hours to go. It was definitely our strongest weekend of the season so far. The second position moves us up to third in the championship which, being realistic, is an excellent effort after the frustrating start to the year."
Following his 2008 Le Mans result, where he won the prototype petrol class, Harold was looking forward to his return to the 24 Hours with Aston Martin Racing. Events didn't exactly go according to plan however.
"Le Mans was one of those races where nothing seemed to work out. We still had 14 hours to go when my co-driver Stuart Hall was disqualified, leaving just myself and Peter Kox to drive. We ended up doing double stints, meaning we'd be in the car for two hours, come out, get something to eat and drink, sleep for 30 minutes and then get back in again. It certainly required a high level of fitness.
"I'm sure we would have reached the finish no problem at all if we'd not had the technical problem. All in all it was a good experience because I now know what to expect should it happen again. I think it will also make me a better driver when there are three of us sharing."
Le Mans week was of particular significance to the Aston Martin squad this year with the manufacturer celebrating the 50th anniversary of its last victory at La Sarthe in 1959.That, confirmed Harold, carried with it added pressure.
"Naturally you want to do well because you feel privileged to be part of that story. But you do feel a bit tenser because of it, although much of that is positive energy. It's also very rewarding driving for such a prestigious manufacturer, especially one with the racing heritage of Aston Martin. It still feels special every time I get in the car."
2009 was also the first season for Harold driving a prototype coupe.
"Aston's coupe has definitely got an aerodynamic advantage in a straight line, which helped on the long straights at Le Mans. The vision is a little less compared to the open top cars that I'm used to which is more important on the tighter circuits when you're looking out for traffic. There also isn't the constant stream of air to refresh you."
With the Nurburgring done and dusted, Harold turns his attention to Silverstone and the final Le Mans Series round of 2009. With the season almost at its end, he wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who has supported him this year.
"I just want to take this opportunity to thank my partners, who have followed me every year, and the people who have supported me from the start. Hopefully this is an opportunity to go from strength to strength into next year when we'll definitely be targeting victories. It's not going to be easy racing against the likes of Peugeot and Audi but we're quite optimistic of continued improvement.
"We'll have another test before Silverstone where hopefully we can round off the year with another positive result for Aston Martin Racing."
Harold will be back in action at the final Le Mans Series round at Silverstone on September 12/13.