PREMA secures top-5 finish in Monza rollercoaster ride
PREMA secured a top-5 finish in a highly-eventful 4 Hours of Monza ELMS event today. Coming to the venue after winning the opening two races of the season at Paul Ricard and Imola, the team faced a challenging weekend in torrid weather at the Italian temple of speed.
After being punted out in testing on Thursday, the Italian squad worked hard to repair the #9 Oreca LMP2 racecar before experiencing positive runs in practice with all three drivers, Louis Delétraz, Ferdinand Habsburg, and home hero Lorenzo Colombo. Qualifying brought home a third-row start in P6 as the Swissman maximized the potential available.
At the start of the race, 24-year-old Austrian Habsburg stayed clear of trouble in the opening laps, before putting up a forceful attack, passing car by car and eventually taking the lead with a bold dive at Roggia in a drama-filled first hour of the race.
Coming for the first driver change, the car was boxed in the incredibly tight Monza pit lane, and the team had to make a complex maneuver to make it exit the stall. Unfortunately, an infringement was made in the process, which resulted in a 10-second penalty.
Colombo drove in the middle part of the race and put up another bold charge towards the front, showing amazing chemistry with his home track. The 21-year-old Italian was once again impressive and put the car back into contention. At the end of his driving time, he handed the car to Delétraz.
With the aforementioned 10-second stop to serve right after a safety car that bunched up the field, the 24-year-old delivered a fantastic run. Rejoining the pack in P12, he posted one fast lap after the other, and made his way through the LMP2 contenders, even passing two cars in one attempt. With three minutes to go, he made the final move for P3.
Unfortunately, a further 10-second penalty due to a pit-entry infringement in the opening part of the race was applied after the finish, and cost the team two spots.
The top-5 result means that PREMA continues to lead the ELMS championship ahead of the next round in Barcelona. The team will now stay in Monza to take part in the fourth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship next weekend.
#9 - Lorenzo Colombo
"The weekend didn't have the greatest start with a crash we were involved in, and that forced us to recover the time lost in terms of the setup. We did a great job in developing the car and today it was amazing. We had a few pit-stop issues, and also had a bit of bad luck with the safety car timing as the pit lane was packed. This happens in endurance but on track, I think we really proved ourselves again, and while we got another penalty post-race, we are still leading the championship."
#9 - Louis Delétraz
"I went from P12 to P3 in my driving time so I had a lot of work on track. It was not easy but it was fun, I really had to go for it and overtake people to make it happen. The car was very strong and that's the positive of the day we have to take to next week. It's a pity for the penalties that set us back, but we have to analize what happened to avoid mistakes and be strong for the WEC. We have another championship to hunt for and we will try to win!"
#9 - Ferdinand Habsburg
"We were super fast and should have been a win maybe in the end, but a lot of things got in our way that really didn't help us. Starting sixth, it took a bit of time to get into the lead. We got there but struggled a bit in the pits as it's a very narrow pit-lane and we didn't benefit from it, having other cars very close and losing a bit of time every pit-stop. We also got a penalty for a pit-stop infringement and a post-race penalty due to a pit-entry issue. Anyway, we are still leading the championship and I think we have plenty to learn from for the future. I'm sure we'll bounce back in Barcelona."