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Premat, Bachelart Launch Quest, Planning Mercedes-AMG GT4 Effort

Alexandre Premat, Eric Bachelart launch Quest Racing with two-car Mercedes-AMG GT4 effort…

Photo: Shell V-Power Racing Team

Alexandre Premat has teamed up with Eric Bachelart for a new venture, with Quest Racing set to field up to two Mercedes-AMG GT4s in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge this year.

The ex-GP2 ace and Audi factory driver, who has spent recent years in Virgin Australia Supercars, has entered into a partnership with the former Conquest Racing team owner that will see Bachelart make his return to IMSA competition.

“I’ve known Eric for a long time,” Premat told Endurance-Info. “I ran a test with his team in IndyCar alongside Guillaume Moreau.

“We stayed in touch and it is time to start our own team. Eric knows IMSA and American motorsports.”

Conquest fielded a Morgan LMP2 car in the American Le Mans Series in 2012, with Bachelart having also served as the Managing Director of now-three-time GT Daytona class champions, Scuderia Corsa.

The Belgian, a longtime veteran of U.S. open-wheel racing, has most recently been involved in the operation of a Ferrari Challenge team.

Premat, a Gold-rated driver by the FIA, will share driving duties of one Mercedes GT4 with Mark Ramsey, a graduate from the Las Vegas-based Exotics Racing driving school and series, which the Frenchman manages.

A second car, meanwhile, could debut by as early as the second round of the season at Sebring in March.

“Discussions are underway with various customers,” Premat said. “The second Mercedes could play a partial program in 2018 with the Intercontinental GT Challenge at Laguna Seca and Suzuka, the COTA 24H and why not the Bathurst 12 Hour in 2019.”

The team is not expected to be present at this weekend’s pre-season test at Daytona, as it awaits delivery of its first Mercedes GT4 car.

In addition to his activities in North America, Premat will continue as an endurance driver for DJR Team Penske in Supercars.

“By launching this team with Eric, I’m preparing for my [transition away from driving], a bit like Sebastien Philippe and Philippe Dumas,” he said. 

“This is a very exciting role in which I take great pleasure. To accompany gentlemen [drivers] and advance [their skills] is something very motivating and rewarding.”

Laurent Mercier contributed to this report

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Psychlops924

    January 1, 2018 at 10:39 pm

    Anyone know how many full season GT4 cars this puts us at in CTSC? It seems like there’s new announcements every week

    • Andrew

      January 2, 2018 at 9:43 am

      Think the list I last saw was close to 25 with only 2, maybe 3, non GT4 cars in the mix. Think the Astons are GS spec still not GT4s and there was one Cayman GT4 (not MR) in the list of 28. Gonna be a hella season if it doesn’t collapse from the costs. Although TC becoming TCR is gonna be tough, and the cars aren’t much cheaper or slower than GT4 it seems. Rumored they may have to ballast or restrict the TCRs to maintain a gap making TCR a poor choice. But there isn’t much else and it seems like building a TC car is getting tougher each year as cars evolve.

      • thomas

        January 3, 2018 at 5:23 am

        You’ve got more than a few wires crossed there mate:
        -GS is fully GT4 this year, even the Aston Martins will be GT4 (if they weren’t already)
        -TC has not ever been a class in CTSC. TC is a PWC category.
        -TCR has been introduced as a new category between GS(GT4) and ST.
        -As an example a TCR Audi A3 costs $129,000 and the GT4 Audi R8 costs $198,000/ $70k is a fair difference.
        -The speed between the two classes will I suspect be like LMP3/MPC was in 2017 unless they adulterate it. Nobody knows how a TCR car will run on Continental rubber though so they could easily use tyres to widen the difference.
        -TCR in PWC is a separate class to TC and TC-A which will continue to run in 2018.
        -Back in IMSA land any Porsche competing in GS must be the Cayman GT4 MR spec car as this is the only one homologated to GT4 rules.

        It’s look like at least 20 full season GS cars. TCR and ST is anybody’s guess at this point. As it’s the last year of ST some people will race their cars just to get the last they can out of them (think Mazdas, Minis) but some have already announced they’re moving up.

        The Roar test is not compulsory for the Conti series so I suspect a few more ST and TCR cars will get onto the grid.

        • Sorry, but I've asked teams and drivers mate

          January 3, 2018 at 8:58 am

          Sorry, but you are wrong on so many of those points.

          First, the Astons are NOT GT4 as per the team entering them, still GS. And doubtful they will be upgraded, hell the team didn’t even get support to earn manufacturer points for AM.

          Second, the Porsches not listed as MRs are in fact NOT MRs. IMSA has never restricted that to only current as they were the same cars as last year.

          Third, teams have run on the Contis with the TCR cars and they know they are BARELY behind the GS cars. Conti is NOT going to make a new tire so the tire that’s out is the tire they are using. Conti isn’t a fast to respond brand and they’ve been fired so why would they now?

          Forth, ST will be a Mazda fest by the end of the year with BMW teams moving to GT4s and Mini moving out unless they build a TCR. Haven’t seen Mini’s nominated TCR builder yet. And they better burn those MX-5s up all season cause it’s back to spec Miata for them in 18.

          And the $129k number is the conversion rate from Euros, it’s closer to $180k directly from parties interested in buying one. They estimated BARELY any difference between the RS3 and R8 in overall costs for the season. Which would you rather have??

          • Thomas (not hiding behind a pseudonym)

            January 3, 2018 at 7:35 pm

            Read the technical regulations and get back to me about car eligibility

  2. thomas

    January 2, 2018 at 3:50 am

    Premat is a wasted talent. He should be in a top line factory role.

    • N8

      January 2, 2018 at 11:03 am

      He remains on pace with the top drivers in Supercars, but even there, he’s only been able to put together an endurance co-drive in recent seasons, albeit with top teams.

      I’m not saying that teams and drivers at this level entering GS is a bad thing, but the potential for CTSC budgets to become prohibitive is becoming reality.

      • Dan

        January 2, 2018 at 11:01 pm

        The introduction of flagship models (AMG and Audi) plus factory supported teams like HTP/windward isn’t helping matters. At this rate GT4 will become the next GT3 in a few years. The budgets are already reaching close to 1 million a car per CTSC season depending on the make. Its not good and nobody seems to be paying attention.

  3. Russell Carpenter

    January 3, 2018 at 9:38 pm

    Sadly, when Roger Penske came in as an owner, professional racing had to make a huge turn to keep up. The grease monkeys gave way to engineers, race drivers who actually drove the transports are now flying in private jets, and eating sandwiches in the paddock while sitting on a tool box has switched to catered gourmet meals served on linen table cloths.

    Everything in racing now must be first class or just don’t bother showing up. Sponsors pay a lot and want a lot in return. Start up teams can’t make the grade anymore as the entry bar is too high, unless you’re a Silicon Valley VC or a dollar loan scum bag. A $200,000 customer car is about the cheapest thing in a team’s inventory. $80,000 in spares, $30,000 in BBS wheels and race tires, $15,000 for team uniforms and custom colored everything, plus airfare, rooms and food for 14, plus $200,000 for a transport and custom race trailer, plus $20,000 in alignment and scale stuff, and computers, two pit bikes, a caterer for team lunches, 65′ x 30′ of rubber pavement tile, air jacks, $7,000 for driver suits and swag, the list goes on forever. And that’s just to be in the middle of the pack.

    Racing has gotten too expensive, not because of the cars, but because of the bling and the desire to compete with Team Penske or Ford or Porsche or Audi. Instead of allowing lower speed cars to have more power or less weight, the organizers add complexity to slow the faster cars down.

    The price goes up exponentially with complexity. When that happens, the lower speed teams can’t compete, they can’t get sponsorship; they wash out. Flying Lizard is one such team sponsored nearly entirely by a venture capitalist who has had to slim down over the years because even he couldn’t keep paying so much. Penske doesn’t pay anyone out of his pocket, but he’s the best and has been since 1968, so sponsors pay his enormous fee to be associated with that brand.

    Racing is massively expensive, so good-bye Stevenson and Alex Job and Ford and Porsche and Audi. I enjoyed you while you were here.

    • N8

      January 4, 2018 at 1:51 pm

      It’s really just the ebb and flow of motorsports, especially sportscars. We’re in a golden age that, at some point, will come crashing down when the manufacturer budgets can no longer be rationalized. The problem IMSA faces is the whole thing is now built on OEM’s from TCR, up, and the privateers that propped them up during the bad years have mostly been pushed out.

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