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Primat at the 2011 24 Hours of Le Mans driver parade
|24 Hours of Le Mans career|
|Teams||Rollcentre Racing, Swiss Spirit, Pescarolo Sport, Aston Martin Racing|
|Best finish||6th (2010)|
Harold Primat (born 12 June 1975) is a French-born Swiss racing driver currently competing in the Blancpain Endurance Series and selected long-distance events such as the Bathurst 12 Hours and Nürburgring 24 Hours.
The nephew of famed motorcycle racer Claude Vigreux, Primat began his career in karts before graduating to the famous Max Mygale and Winfield racing schools in France, as well as the UK-based Jim Russell centre.
His next move was to the USA where he competed in the Formula Ford 2000 championship. He then continued to climb the motorsport ladder in British Formula Three Championship and later the F3 Euroseries, before concluding his single-seater career in World Series Lights with the Saulnier team.
During 2003 and 2004, Primat dovetailed his single-seater exploits with a new interest in endurance racing, where consistency and car management are placed in higher regard than outright speed. Debuting in 2003 with the Saulnier outfit, he competed in the V de V Endurance championship and was instantly competitive, leading his maiden race at Spa until a mechanical failure brought his efforts to nought. Primat would become vice-champion in only his second season, narrowly missing out on the title after a prior World Series Lights commitment forced him to skip a race.
Top flight endurance racing on both sides of the Atlantic
Graduating to top-level endurance racing with Kruse Motorsport in 2005, Primat made an instant impact by qualifying third and finishing second in class at the prestigious 12 Hours of Sebring.
Remaining with Kruse on the other side of the Atlantic, Primat began the European season at Spa but retired due to engine problems. He then switched to Rollcentre Racing, which allowed him to fight for overall honours in the LMP1 category, and went on to score three top-ten finishes in his debut year.
2005 also saw Primat make his maiden appearance at the legendary Le Mans 24 Hours. After qualifying an excellent 13th, the Rollcentre Dallara-Nissan suffered technical problems in the early stages of the race, leading to the team not being classified.
Primat switched teams for 2006, becoming part of an all-Swiss line-up in the new Swiss Spirit outfit. Here he would re-join his old boss Serge Saulnier, whose eponymous squad ran the programme. Podiums at Spa and Jarama followed, netting Primat joint-fourth place in the championship. However he was again unable to complete the Le Mans 24 Hours after gearbox problems forced him into retirement on lap 132.
He again dovetailed his European programme with a selection of US-based races in 2006, finishing third at Laguna Seca and fourth at Petit Le Mans for the Creation Autosportif team. Unfortunately his debut at the blue riband Daytona 24 Hours was thwarted by an engine failure on his Spirit of Daytona Crawford-Pontiac.
In 2007 Primat signed for Le Mans legend Henri Pescarolo’s eponymous team. A podium at Spa was his best result in the face of increased competition from the works Peugeot squad, but again Primat showed superb consistency to finish among the top-six at four of the six races. The season also saw him secure his first Le Mans finish, coming home sixth in class and 13th overall despite losing 90 minutes in the pits to an oil leak.
Remaining with Pescarolo Sport for the 2008 Le Mans Series, Primat netted a superb podium finish at Monza, a result made all the more impressive by the addition of the factory Audi squad to the LMS field. Primat also took a best-to-date seventh spot at Le Mans, which placed him first among the unofficial 'petrol' class, beaten only by the diesel machines of sportscar heavyweights Audi and Peugeot.
In January 2009 Harold was confirmed as an Aston Martin Racing factory driver for the marque’s first foray into top-class endurance racing since 1989. Partnering Darren Turner, he finished fourth in the Le Mans Series standings thanks to the duo’s consistency, which included a second position at the Nürburgring. Harold was joined by Peter Kox and Stuart Hall for Le Mans where a water leak curtailed the #009 Lola-Aston Martin’s involvement after 252 laps. The highlight of the season was still to come however with victory alongside Stefan Mücke at the inaugural Asian Le Mans Series race at Okayama in late autumn.
2010 again saw Harold don the familiar blue and orange overalls of Aston Martin Racing for whom he recorded three podiums in the ALMS and LMS. Sixth place overall at Le Mans itself also represented his best finish at the French endurance classic to date. A third season with AMR in 2011, this time alongside Turner and Mücke, produced two more rostrums - including an outright ALMS victory at Laguna Seca - for Primat and the ageing Lola-based coupe. Aston Martin's new, open-top AMR-One proved unreliable however, prompting the team to withdraw from the LMP1 ranks at the end of the year.
That saw Primat move to privateer LMP1 outfit Rebellion Racing for the newly revived FIA World Endurance Championship in 2012. With Audi and Toyota's factory entries winning all eight rounds between them, it was left to Rebellion to fight for the LMP1 Trophy against Strakka, JRM and OAK Racing. Two victories - at Silverstone and Shanghai - ensured Primat played his part in the Swiss outfit winning just that.
2013 brought with it a fresh challenge as Primat swapped sports-prototype for GT machinery as part of Phoenix Racing's Blancpain Endurance Series, VLN and Bathurst 12 Hour driver roster. Piloting an Audi R8 LMS ultra, Primat took a commendable fourth place finish at the Australian classic despite losing four laps to repairs, and achieved the same result at the blue riband 24 Hours of Spa. Racing alongside Oliver Jarvis and Christopher Hasse, the Belgian event saw the trio deliver a comeback drive that ranked among the highlights of the twice-around-the-clock contest. Primat would also enjoy success on the VLN scene, picking up a brace of podium finishes.
On 16 September 2015, Primat announced his retirement from racing, ending his seventeen year long career. Primat will retire after the final round of the 2015 Blancpain Endurance Series season, at the Nürburgring. He said that "now is the right time to begin a fresh chapter in life by focusing on other projects".
Complete 24 Hours of Le Mans results
|2005||Rollcentre Racing|| Michael Krumm
|2006||Swiss Spirit|| Marcel Fässler
|2007||Pescarolo Sport|| Christophe Tinseau
|2008||Pescarolo Sport|| Christophe Tinseau
|2009||Aston Martin Racing|| Stuart Hall
|Lola-Aston Martin B09/60||LMP1||252||DNF||DNF|
|2010||Aston Martin Racing|| Stefan Mücke
|Lola-Aston Martin B09/60||LMP1||365||6th||5th|
|2011||Aston Martin Racing|| Adrián Fernández
|Aston Martin AMR-One||LMP1||2||DNF||DNF|
|2012||Rebellion Racing|| Andrea Belicchi
- racinginside.com - Interview met Harold Primat
- :: Saulnier Racing
- "Sportscar racer Harold Primat to end career after BES finale". Autosport.com. Retrieved September 17, 2015.