Habsburg joined Prema Team for the Italian outfit’s debut season in endurance racing. Due to Juan Manuel Correa`s injury, Habsburg and Louis Delétraz were joined by Lorenzo Colombo for the season opener at the Paul Ricard circuit in the south of France.
The three youngsters sat at the top three of the timesheets in all the practice sessions, demonstrating their competitiveness from the get-go.
Louis took the reins of the #9 Oreca for the qualifying and he clearly had the pace to finish on top, however, a badly-timed red flag hindered his chances to challenge for pole, having to settle for third.
Lorenzo started the race and held onto his position during the chaotic opening stint with three Safety Car interventions and an FCY period, handling all the restarts perfectly. Thanks to the Prema team’s impeccable strategy and flawless work in the pits, he gained a place during the second pit stop, rejoining the race in P2 before passing the wheel to Ferdinand with two and a half hours left on the clock.
The reigning LMP2 World Champion took the lead straight away and started to pull a gap to the chasing Cool Racing car, building a solid nine-second advantage by the end of his first stint. In the middle of his second stint, Ferdinand had a great battle with Nico Jamin, having to fend off the attack by the Frenchman but in the end the experienced Austrian driver pulled a 2.5 second gap prior to his final stop. The REMUS Performance Sports Exhaust supported driver handed the wheel to Deletraz with a little more than an hour to go to finish the job.
Louis completed a perfect final stint, the Swiss driver brought the #9 Prema Team Oreca home to victory. The trio of Habsburg, Deletraz and Colombo delivered Prema Team’s maiden win in endurance racing in the Italian squad’s ELMS debut.
This victory marks Ferdinand’s third visit to the podium out of three races this year, in three different championships with three different teams, following his third-place finishes at the Rolex 24 and the 1000 Miles of Sebring, extending his 6-race podium streak since the 2021 4H of Portimão race.
“We won it! First time in red, and it feels pretty special. Couldn’t have wished for a better start to my ELMS campaign with Prema. I’ve been dreaming of racing for them since my F3 days, and standing on top of the podium with them fills me with immense pride. Louis and Lorenzo were brilliant behind the wheel, and the entire team did a great job, getting the strategy right and nailing all the pit stops. Can’t wait to do it all over again in Imola!”
Habsburg’s next race will be in the World Endurance Championship with Team WRT on May 7th at Spa-Francorchamps.