Primat’s podium chance goes begging at Paul Ricard

Primat’s podium chance goes begging at Paul Ricard

• #84 Bentley finishes nine laps down after on-track clash

Harold Primat’s highly frustrating Blancpain Endurance Series campaign continued at Paul Ricard on Saturday (June 20) when a number of issues thwarted his and Bentley Team HTP’s attempts to score their first podium finish of the season.

The collective efforts of Primat, Mike Parisy and Vincent Abril ultimately brought the #84 Continental GT3 home 18th in the Pro Cup class after a lengthy spell in the garage to repair an accelerator connection initially dropped the trio from third to 42nd overall.

The weekend had promised much when Abril set the third fastest qualifying time, which subsequently became second after a rival was penalised. The Frenchman then did well to avoid a series of accidents at the start of the afternoon’s six-hour/1000km race and complete his untroubled opening stint third.

Parisy was next up and produced a similarly assured performance in the face of significant pressure from Guy Smith’s factory Bentley to maintain the HTP car’s podium chances ahead of its second stop.

With roughly two hours gone it was Primat’s turn behind the wheel, but – for the third Blancpain Endurance Series round running – damage to the #84 machine would soon remove it from the reckoning. The Swiss ace had only just returned to the track when his attempts to pass one of the slower Pro Am entries resulted in contact.

“We’d been very unlucky in the first two races with accidents that were no fault of our own, but this one was probably a racing incident,” rued Primat afterwards. “As the passing driver it’s my job to make a clean move. The car in front indicated, which usually means room will be left, but as I went for the pass it closed the door. There was nowhere to go and we made contact. Cosmetic damage was minimal but the impact broke the accelerator, forcing me back into the pits.”

There the Bentley Team HTP mechanics worked feverishly to repair the problem. But when Harold ground to a halt with the same issue while exiting the pit-lane, further irrecoverable time was lost retrieving and fixing the car once and for all.

Indeed, three subsequent trouble-free stints for all drivers were only good enough to pick up a handful of places en route to finishing nine laps behind the winners in 36th overall.

“It’s just been one of those seasons so far,” continued Primat. “Aside from the Nurburgring 24 Hours very little has gone right. Today we had a great opportunity before a small incident cost us dearly. There was still a long way to go when the accident happened but our pace was very good. The works Bentley we’d been fighting with eventually finished second, which gives you an idea of our potential. I just really hope we can demonstrate similar pace at Spa. A big result there would at least go some way to making up for a tough season.”

Indeed Harold, Bentley Team HTP and the rest of the Blancpain fraternity will be in Belgium this Wednesday (June 24) for the official 24 Hours of Spa Test Day. The race itself takes place on July 21-26.