It was Ferdinand’s first visit to the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari and he was blown away by the iconic circuit from the start.
The duo of Habsburg and Deletraz was once again joined by Lorenzo Colombo replacing Correa who’s still recovering from his injury.
They made a strong start to the weekend showing great pace in the pre-event testing and qualifying the #9 Prema Racing Oreca on the second row of the grid.
Lorenzo took the start and immediately stormed into the lead and started to pull a gap. Unfortunately, a small mistake at the start resulted in a drive-through penalty, however, due to a perfectly timed FCY, the #9 car managed to maintain the lead.
It didn’t last long as Lorenzo picked up another drive-through for crossing the white line at the pit exit which had to be served by Ferdinand who took over the car from the young Italian. This time they suffered from the penalty more severely and were relegated all the way back to P5 after the stop
But Ferdinand is well known for his incredible race craft, and the Austrian didn’t disappoint. He started a stupendous charge by overtaking Pilet for 4th and moved up to third place after the pit stops. He delivered a flawless double stint before handing the car to Deletraz.
Louis jumped in for the final leg of the race to finish the job. However, the hardships weren’t over for the #9 squad who were hit with a 10-second time penalty for breaking the safety regulations in the pit lane. Entering the final 30 minutes of the frenetic race, it seemed like the Prema car had to settle for third place, but just like many times before it’s been proven that in endurance racing you have to expect the unexpected. In endurance racing anything can happen until the flag falls.
Once the top two cars made their final pit stops, Louis got in the lead and started to pull a gap, setting one purple sector after another. As a final twist, the sixth Full Course Yellow phase of the race was called right in time for Louis to make his final pit stop without losing significant time and he got back to the lead of the race and crossed the line first, taking Prema Team’s second victory in two ELMS races.
This win marks Ferdinand’s eighth consecutive podium finish, continuing the incredible streak he started last year in Portimão, making it the best season start of his racing career with a 100% podium rate so far in 2022.
Habsburg and his teammates extended their championship lead to 23 points with four more four hour races to go.
“Incredible. What a special feeling to win a race with Prema in Italy! It’s been an eventful four hours, but we still managed to come out on top. The car had huge pace and we were able to go longer on fuel than our competitors. Even though we made mistakes, God gave us this win out of nowhere in the end. Thanks to every single member of the team for their hard work. Can’t wait to do it all over again in Monza!“
The next ELMS race will take place in Monza on July 3rd, but before that Ferdinand will return to Le Mans to defend his 2021 LMP2 victory with REALTEAM by WRT.