PREMA scores podium, widens ELMS championship lead at Spa-Francorchamps
PREMA delivered a strong run today at Spa-Francorchamps, claiming a valuable podium finish in the fifth round of the European Le Mans Series at the famed Grand Prix venue.
The team welcomed Juan Manuel Correa for the first time this year as the Ecuadorian-American joined full-season teammates Louis Delétraz and Ferdinand Habsburg aboard the #9 Oreca LMP2 racecar.
The weather proved to be a major variable, as conditions changed from dry to wet in the opening days. The team worked efficiently to navigate the early stages of the weekend, showing remarkable potential which fully emerged during the race.
Late contact in practice impacted the qualifying result, but the team made swift repairs, and Delétraz salvaged P8 on the grid, which gave a good base to build on. At the start of the 4-hour race, Habsburg provided one of his classiest comebacks, with the damp track of the opening laps quickly turning dry on a sunny and relatively warm Belgian Sunday. The 25-year-old Austrian started strong and made his way to P3 early, paving the way for a solid debut drive for Correa. The 23-year-old lined up for his first endurance race and performed without a hitch. After exiting the pits in P4, he battled with much more experienced drivers and handed the car in the same position to Delétraz.
The Swissman drove a heart-pounding stint. First, he chased down the team's closest championship rival and then, after the final pit-stop cycle elevated him to P3, went to the attack for P2, which would have given the team an early title. Delétraz put up another stellar recovery but eventually ran out of time. However, P3 was a great satisfaction and widened the team's overall championship lead.
PREMA will be back on track for the 2022 ELMS finale in mid-October at Portimão in the beautiful Algarve region of Portugal.
#9 - Juan Manuel Correa
"I'm extremely happy with my first endurance race. I learned a lot this weekend, and while it was a learning experience, I really enjoyed it. Massive thanks to the team, especially to Ferdi and Louis who helped me a lot. Now I'm just looking forward to Portimão, where hopefully we can take the championship. For now, I will enjoy a nice trophy. Thank you!"
#9 - Louis Delétraz
"It has been a good race. We finished P3 and got a nice podium finish, plus some valuable points. It was not an easy one. It was damp with tricky conditions for Ferdi at the start, and after that JM did an amazing job, with no mistakes as we expected from him. I did my best in the end with the comeback and the last fight for second place, but we could not quite get it. We didn't close the championship, we are still missing two points, but I'm still really happy. The team did a great job, on to the next one!"
#9 - Ferdinand Habsburg
"There's a lot to say that we are not super happy about today's result because we wanted to win the championship today. However, we didn't manage some of the goals, but the first goal is always to be on the podium and finish the race with no penalties, which we did it. Standing on the podium in this championship is really tricky as it's highly competitive. It's a special day to be in Spa in the sun, we went to the podium and celebrated this moment with the team and my teammates. JM joined late this year, and just did a stellar job, we couldn't have asked more from him. We're all very happy, and joyful, now we've got to win the championship in Portimão, but I have no doubt that we are strong enough to go out and do that."