Premat won the Enduro Cup alongside Shane van Gisbergen at Triple Eight in 2016 before being poached by the Ford squad to reunite with his former Garry Rogers Motorsport teammate McLaughlin.
The McLaughlin/Premat combination broke through for a Bathurst win this year, defeating Triple Eight’s all-star line-up that included recently retired full-timers Garth Tander and Craig Lowndes as co-drivers.
Despite Premat having also helped McLaughlin to a second straight title, the Shell team could not resist the temptation to snap up Slade, who himself is coming off 11 years as a full-timer.
Asked by Supercars.com if he’s disappointed with the decision, the Las Vegas-based Premat said: “Honestly from my side, I did my best the last three years.
“They have to make their team for the next years and it’s a business for them, it’s quite important, so I respect what has happened.
“I’m proud of what we’ve achieved winning Bathurst and the other wins I had with Scott the last three years. I’m grateful for them to give me the drive, I want to thank them for that.”
While getting plenty of miles in racing cars through his EXR driving school in Las Vegas, Premat said the fact he does not race full-time and is based internationally counted against him.
Premat flew out for the Winton additional driver practice session this year, but traditionally only arrives in time for the team’s pre-enduro test day in September.
“I’m sure they feel those co-driver sessions are really important,” he said.
“I feel for me it’s not really worth it, you just do 30 minutes testing with used tyres, it’s pretty boring for us, but I guess internally it’s just to know what’s going on, the process with the team.
“For sure it’s a fact that maybe from this I didn’t retain [the drive]. I’m sure if I could live in Australia I would have retained, but not being able to do that makes it harder.
“It’s unfortunate, that’s for sure.”
Premat has already had discussions with other teams about 2020, but faces a co-driver market in which the key seats – including at Triple Eight and Penrite Racing – are already set.
“There are not many options left for next year, but we’ll see what happens,” he said.
“I feel that some people sometimes think ‘ahh Premat, he’s like this, he’s French…’, but if you look at the results I show that I have my place there.
“The job I deliver, I think it’s even more than people were expecting. For sure I should get a seat hopefully.
“It’s like this, motor racing, it’s a hard business. Life is an adventure and let’s move on. When one door closes maybe others open.”