Franck Perera has emerged as one of the quickest drivers so far this season with the PRO GT by Almeras team in a Porsche 997 GT3R. The Italian based Frenchman switched to GT racing only recently but after a career that saw him work with the Toyota F1 team for two seasons, has taken to the discipline instantly. A second row start at Monza was followed by another superb turn of speed at Silverstone. Despite no points so far, Perera’s pace has been scintillating and he is one to watch for the rest of the season.
What do you expect from Paul Ricard at the end of this month?
“I have great expectations for the third round of the Blancpain Endurance Series in France where I have often had opportunities to drive in my career in series like F1 as a test driver, GP2, Renault 3.5 and F3. But I am especially expecting a lot from this race because our pole position in Pro-Am at Monza and our 6th position overall on the grid at Silverstone proved that we have worked hard and that our speed is there, even on some difficult tracks for us.”
How would you assess the start of the season for you and the PRO GT by Almeras team?
“Unfortunately, we did not have the expected results after some really good preparation work during the winter, with the new Porsche and the Pirelli tyres. The proof is there for us, as we did a really good time at the official test in March with the second best time. We are a really bonded team, with Eric Dermont and me forming a good partnership, and we are all willing to keep working in the right direction. We have to keep in mind that it is my first season in the Blancpain Endurance Series. This series has a very high level of competition and we still have a lot to learn, but will be trying to create our own luck and turn it all in to our favour.”
Do you think Paul Ricard is a good track for the Porsche. Will it suit the characteristics of the PRO GT by Almeras 997 GT3R?
“Yes, I think this track suits the Porsche nicely, but not only the Porsche! For instance, I think Ferrari will be quite good at Ricard too. One of the big qualities of this series is that we often find all the manufacturers represented at the front. Like at Silverstone, when there were five different brands on the first three rows of the grid! After the good results during the test days and a second position in GT Open last winter on this track, I can say that everyone at PRO GT by Almeras is really looking forward to the event.”
This round must be all the more important for you as it is in France, your home country, and even more in the South, not far from where you come from (Montpellier)!
“It is always a pleasure to drive in France, on this wonderful track and in an amazing region where I hope we will get some serious sun. But this is also important for me because my native town of Montpellier is not far from the Paul Ricard circuit. I will have family members, relatives and friends that will come to support me, so I am really looking forward to it.”
As you said earlier, you are used to driving on this circuit. Is it a track that you particularly like?
“Paul Ricard is a circuit that I love a lot for its quality. On one section we have changes of paces, change of setting, of security and infrastructures. This is what makes the Le Castellet track so beautiful today. I admit I am lucky because I had so many opportunities to do tests on that track during my career. In less than two weeks from now, I will be thrilled to be back on that track for the third round of the Blancpain Endurance Series.”