The US-based Frenchman will miss the Great Race for a second year running, his latest Tickford deal dashed once again by complications with Australia’s closed border.
The news comes despite Tickford having previously been confident that it could manage the border process, as well as decreasing restrictions for overseas arrivals into New South Wales due to increasing vaccination coverage.
According to the team it was a lack of flights that was the primary complication with getting Premat into Australia.
Premat will now have to wait until at least 2022 to have a shot at defending the Bathurst 1000 crown he won with Scott McLaughlin at Dick Johnson Racing in 2019.
Tickford’s Super2 driver Zak Best (pictured below) will effectively replace Premat in the extended driver line-up.
“I was really looking forward to coming back to Bathurst this year, so I am sad to say I won’t be making the trip to race with Tickford in 2021,” said Premat.
“Unfortunately, between commitments I have in the US and difficulties with travelling into Australia, we couldn’t put things together and make it work, which is a shame. But I’ll be cheering on the team from home and hopefully next year I can finally come back to Bathurst!”
Tickford CEO Tim Edwards added: “It’s of course very disappointing that we’ve had to park Alex again this year.
“We only came to that decision recently, and even with the prospect of changes to international travel into New South Wales, organising flights is very challenging, so we’ve decided to remain committed to the path and give Zak the opportunity to step up into that seat.
“He’s done an excellent job for us in Super2 and obviously knows the team and the cars pretty well so he’s certainly earned the opportunity, and we think he’ll do a great job for us.”
Tickford has now formally locked in its full Bathurst line-up, with Best set to slot in alongside Jack Le Brocq in what will be his last race for the Ford team.
James Moffat and Cam Waters will team up for the first time in what is Moffat’s fourth Bathurst start with Tickford.
Thomas Randle, who will join Tickford in a full-time seat next season, will partner James Courtney in the Boost Mobile-backed entry.
“Moff is incredibly quick at Bathurst and has obviously driven for us for several years now, [and] Thomas is of course on his way to a full-time seat and has been very strong this year himself, so we’re very happy with our driver pairings and the teams we’ve put together for Bathurst,” said Edwards.
“I’ve said it before, these days at Bathurst you need drivers who are both fast and reliable, and I think all three of our cars are very well balanced for this year’s race.”
Tickford will head to Mount Panorama looking for a third Bathurst crown to add to its successes in 2013 (Mark Winterbottom/Steve Richards) and 2014 (Chaz Mostert/Paul Morris).