The last Prema Racing dance. Funnily enough at the exact same track were I drove my first laps in that beautiful red, white and green car – the Bahrain International Circuit. One day after the 2022 8 Hours of Bahrain I was invited to do the WEC Rookie Test and just under a year later I returned to that same track to compete in the last WEC event of 2023.
Believe it or not, but the Bahrain International Circuit feels like a home track for me. Seriously – I’ve been here so many times! In comparison, I never raced at Zandvoort in my home country The Netherlands, and only during one race event at the TT Circuit Assen, while in Bahrain, I raced in Formula 2, tested in Formula 3, raced in the MRF Challenge and tested in WEC.
I will never forget that MRF weekend by the way – my Lord, we had so much fun. We is me and my friend David Schumacher. We out-braked each other at the weirdest places, ending up with a handful of trophies, finishing first and second in three consecutive races.
But back to now: the 2023 8 Hours of Bahrain, for which we qualified P8, with the sister car P9. During the race we were able to recover a lot of ground. Juan was flying, Filip delivered outstanding stints and I brought the car all the way to the front – leading the race, that is. The Bahrain track never felt so comfortable and I was sure we could end up on the podium.
Two things happened: WRT and Heart of Racing. The first one beat us all in LMP2 on strategy, therefore capturing a one-two finish with their two cars. Hats off to them. The latter rear-ended me in T1’s braking zone, which lead me to spin and handed us some bad damage. Due to this accident, another car was able to overtake us and push us out of podium contention.
After all I’m satisfied with my own performance, I can not say much more. Result-wise luck has not been on our side, but from my own perspective I reckon this year can lead to a lot of good things in the future. I’ve had a wonderful time with Prema Racing, Juan, Andrea and Filip, was in the lucky position to work with fantastic engineers and mechanics and got two friends for life with René Rosin and Giacomo Piccini.
Grazie mille per tutto, Prema!