Alex Premat’s Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 trophy defence is over before it began, with the Frenchman confirmed to miss this year’s Great Race due to travel restrictions.
Premat last year became the first Frenchman to win the 1000km classic, teaming up with Scott McLaughlin at Shell V-Power Racing.
The Shell squad though locked in long-time full-timer Tim Slade to partner McLaughlin this time around, sparking a Premat move to Tickford Racing, announced in February.
He had initially been tipped for a ride with Jack Le Brocq in the Supercheap Mustang before it became clear that travel could become a hurdle as the COVID-19 situation unfolded.
A ninth shot at the Mountain will now officially have to wait until 2021, with Tickford team principal Tim Edwards already signalling his interest in striking another deal.
“It’s certainly unfortunate for Alex, we were very excited to work with him,” Edwards said.
“He provided excellent feedback at the pre-season test in Tailem Bend, and was quickly getting along with the team.
“Of course we were really looking forward to helping him defend his Bathurst win, but with the complications in travel, as well as the way things change so quickly at the moment, we amicably decided it was best to not race together this year.
“That said we are interested in working together in 2021, so hopefully we’ll have him back in one of our cars again very soon.”
Premat, 38, added: “I was very much looking forward to racing with Tickford at Bathurst, but unfortunately due to the challenges in arranging my travel, I will not be able to compete this year.
“I wish the team luck and will be watching closely from the US.
“Bathurst is an incredible race and one I would like to win again, so I look forward to coming back as soon as I am able.”