• Luckless end as Nurburgring brings curtain down on 17-year career
Harold Primat’s international motor racing career came to an earlier-than-planned end at the Blancpain Endurance Series’ Nurburgring finale yesterday (September 20) when, not for the first time this year, the #84 Bentley Team HTP Continental GT3 was involved in a clash with another car.
The Swiss ace announced last week that Sunday’s three-hour contest would bring his 17-year career to a conclusion, but there was to be no fairy tale ending after Primat was punted into retirement by the #99 Mercedes on lap 50.
The incident was typical of the #84 crew’s season, which has included race-ending accidents instigated by other cars during four of the five rounds. Only at the blue riband 24 Hours of Spa – where Primat, Mike Parisy and Vincent Abril finished fifth in the Pro Cup category – has the trio enjoyed a trouble-free run to the chequered flag.
Once again a good result looked likely after Parisy’s fast opening stint brought the Bentley through from 23rd on the grid to 13th overall by the end of the first hour.
Primat climbed aboard eager to continue the good work and had made up another two positions by the time the championship-chasing ROWE Racing Mercedes appeared in his mirrors. The pair ran nose-to-tail before the SLS AMG GT3 barged into the Continental’s left rear-bumper, spearing Harold into the wall and retirement.
That the driver was handed a penalty for the incident came as little consolation for Primat who had been desperate to end his career and 2015 campaign on a high.
“It’s been the same story all year: lots of potential but no luck and very few good results to show for the car’s pace,” he said afterwards. “Mike produced a fantastic opening stint to put us in contention for a top-10 finish and I was going along very nicely, too. The Bentley was performing really well so it was such a shame to retire in those circumstances. One moment I was driving straight and the next I was pitched sideways. There was nothing I could do about it at all, and the car sustained heavy damage, too.
“Ending such a tough season with something to show for our efforts would have been nice, and we were looking likely to achieve just that. But what can we do? It’s been one of those years. We were still in the Pro Cup title reckoning this time last season and I’m convinced we would have been again without all the incidents. Mike and Vincent have both been fantastic all year, while at the longer races we’ve always been there or thereabouts at the finish after not encountering any issues.”
Harold’s final word was reserved for HTP Motorsport and all those that have contributed towards his career over the years.
“I’ve been involved with the team for the past two seasons and would like to take this opportunity to thank them,” he said. “We’ve shared some truly memorable moments together – the Bathurst 12 Hours podium and record-breaking finishes at this year’s Nurburgring and Spa 24-hour races all stand out – and I really will miss being part of their driver line-up. I’ve raced for some fantastic and historic teams and can honestly say that HTP is right up there with all of them. Hopefully there will be an opportunity to work together in some capacity in the future.
“I’d also like to mention everyone that, at one time or another, has played a part in my career. From current loyal partners like Crans Montana, Primland and Harwood to those who have been involved over the years during my time in single-seaters through sports-prototypes to GT racing. And of course my friends and family, too. In some way you have all contributed and, for that, I am most grateful. Thank you.”
To celebrate his retirement, HTP presented Primat with a special soapbox racer sporting the same livery and partner logos as his Bentley Continental GT3.