Alex Premat has declared his ambition to remain a PIRTEK Enduro Cup co-driver for ‘10 more years’, despite already preparing for life beyond the driver’s seat.
After two troubled seasons as a Supercars full-timer in 2012-13 at Garry Rogers Motorsport, the US-based Frenchman has found his niche as an enduro-import.
A winner of the PIRTEK Enduro Cup alongside Shane van Gisbergen at Triple Eight in 2016, the 36-year-old is preparing for his second campaign at DJR Team Penske.
The McLaughlin/Premat pairing finished second at Sandown and won a race on the Gold Coast in 2017, but their Bathurst hopes were dashed by an engine failure.
Premat’s success since becoming a co-driver begs the question of whether he harbours any ambition to have another full-time crack in Supercars.
“I’d like to come back full-time for sure, but only with DJR Team Penske or a Red Bull car, I would say only those two teams,” he told Supercars.com.
“I don’t want to come and be 10th in the championship. It’s a very hard championship, it’s long and tough.
“I love the co-driving, it’s less pressure, and if I can drive here for 10 more years in a Supercar as a co-driver I am fine with that.
“It was nice working with Shane and Red Bull in 2016 and now with Scott, I have two good friends that are Kiwis fighting for the championship. It’s going to be a tough year.”
Premat with van Gisbergen in 2016
Driver turns owner
Since last year’s Enduro Cup finale, Premat has established his own race team, partnering with Eric Bachelart to form GT4 outfit Quest Racing in the US.
The team runs in the Continental Tire Series, in which Premat co-drives a Mercedes-Benz alongside friend and amateur racer Mark Ramsey, ensuring he enters Sandown race-fit.
Premat describes the move as part of his career transition that began following his full-time Supercars years, when he moved to the US to spearhead the EXR Racing school.
“The transition for sure is something that I’m looking at, because I’m 36. To be a race car driver every day, for sure it’s asking a lot,” he said.
“Since I started working with EXR, we were running a spec series on the West Coast, and now we’re building all the time, it’s working pretty good.
“For sure it’s a transition doing that. Honestly I thought it’d be harder than what it is, but it’s been pretty smooth.
“I just like it, to coach people, (instead of) the challenge of finding drives and sponsors and the routine that you get in as a driver.”
Premat with Ramsey and their GT4 Mercedes
Second Bathurst beckons
While a full-time Supercars return is highly unlikely, the PIRTEK Enduro Cup may not be Premat’s only reason to visit Australia in future years.
February’s Bathurst 12 Hour is a potential future destination for his Quest Racing squad, which could lure the former Audi sportscar pilot to the GT enduro.
“My gentleman driver is looking maybe to do it,” Premat said when asked of the 12 Hour.
“I don’t want to say that I will bring the car from America, maybe we will rent a car in Australia, it will be more efficient to do that.
“But I’m really close now with Mercedes with the GT4, so you never know, maybe I could jump in the GT3 and have some fun.
“I want to do it. I think the format is good, I like 12 Hours better than 24, which for me is too long.
“If I can do it it’d be nice, but a Supercar fits so well the Bathurst track compared to a GT3, and that event is just so good, with the dynamic with the fans. It’s really special.”