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European Le Mans Series

Habsburg “Honoured” to Win With Prema After Failed F3 Bid

Austrian ace reveals he unsuccesfully tried to join Prema during Formula 3 days after taking maiden ELMS win…

Photo: MPS Agency

Ferdinand Habsburg says he is “very honoured” to be part of Prema’s debut victory in the European Le Mans Series at Paul Ricard, revealing he unsuccessfully tried to join the top Italian squad when he was racing in single seaters.

Habsburg took the overall victory in the 4 Hours of Le Castellet on Sunday, sharing the No. 9 Oreca 07 Gibson with Lorenzo Colombo and Louis Deletraz, finishing ahead of Algarve Pro Racing and Panis Racing.

It was the first victory for the Italian squad in sports car racing after years of dominance in junior single seater racing in only its second start in LMP2.

In March, it finished just off the podium in fourth place during its FIA World Endurance Championship debut in Sebring.

Habsburg joined the team after contesting the 2021 campaign with Algarve Pro Racing and revealed after the race that he attempted, without success, to convince Prema team principal Rene Rosin to give him a seat during his time in junior open wheel racing.

“I’m very honored to race for Prema because I dreamt of it when I was in Formula 3,” Habsburg said. “Now I’m winning with Rene. 

“Back in the day, I was offering him to clean the workshop and to cook for the team, just for him to give me an opportunity. 

Now I get the opportunity and I didn’t have to cook or clean for it, so I’m very happy.”

Habsburg took over the car from Colombo, emerging in the lead of the race in the second hour during a round of pitstops under caution.

The reigning WEC LMP2 champion was able to pull a gap, although he later came under pressure from the Panis Racing driver Nico Jamin who closed in after passing the Cool Racing Oreca of Niklas Kruetten during the third hour.

“I was very happy not to have to overtake anybody on track,” Habsburg added. 

“The Panis car came out of nowhere and I had to try to pull a gap, also because in the third stint normally everybody puts in a total superstar and I wanted to not give too much work to Louis. 

“Give him a nice Sunday cruise on Easter Sunday, but still he had to work hard.”

When Deletraz took the car over, the Swiss driver emerged on track behind the off-sequence No. 22 United Autosports Oreca driven by Duncan Tappy.

Even though Tappy was still to pit, Deletraz felt he could not wait and needed to make a pass on the Briton with the Panis car still close behind.

The defending ELMS champion ultimately overtook Tappy into Signes, shortly before Tappy came in for his pitstop.

“There was quite some pressure for me and the team when I got into the car due to the close competition, but we made no mistakes,” Deletraz explained.

“After the pitstop, I knew that the car in front had to come in, but I had the Panis Racing one quite close. 

“I had to pass, so I saw an opportunity and went for it..

“Throughout the race, we had to take great care of the front left tyres, but we managed them well.

“In the end, the car was quick and we could pull a gap to be a bit more comfortable.

“It always looks easy from the outside, never from the inside, but we had a really strong weekend. 

“I’m very proud of the team, as they have been working night and day on this program for the last three months.

“It is a great day for all of us and a big thank you goes to everyone involved and my two teammates.”

Davey Euwema is Sportscar365's European Editor. Based in The Netherlands, Euwema covers the FIA World Endurance Championship, European Le Mans Series and Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS, among other series.

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