Omar Julian Leal has become one of the first drivers to be confirmed on the 2009 World Series by Renault grid after penning a deal with Prema Powerteam.
The Colombian teenager has cut a prolific figure during post-season testing recently, Leal making several appearances with Draco and Prema. However, it is with the latter team he has decided to sign with.
Leal comes to the World Series after two seasons in the Euroseries 3000, the 18-year-old finishing on the podium four times this season on the way to sixth in the overall standings. Although he accepts 2009 will signal a challenge for him, Leal is excited to be graduating with Prema.
"After my first experience with the World Series Renault environment, I tried to get a contact with a top team. The agreement we finalized with Prema makes me really excited: I know I'll have the chance to race supported by an extremely valuable team.
“Since the first test, I also realized that the 2009 one will be another quite competitive season. I know I'll have to work hard to fight for the top spots and reward the team's expectations. I really felt good with all the staff, starting from the technical compartment. A good way to start a season which I hope will carry some great satisfactions."
Team principal Angelo Rosin, meanwhile, was thrilled to have secured his first driver before the countdown to the 2009 season gets underway.
"I'm extremely proud to have finalized the deal with Omar Julian Leal, a really promising young driver. It's always a pleasure to work with talented drivers who are eager to improve together with the team. I had the chance to see Leal on-track in the recent tests at Valencia, where he also showed a great physical shape.
“The Formula Renault 3.5 is a really demanding and competitive series, where nothing's left to fate. Julian has a great all-round preparation, and I'm sure we'll have plenty of satisfactions to be glad of in 2009."
Prema, who finished fourth in 2008 with the combination of Miguel Molina and Alvaro Barba, will announce a second driver in the coming weeks.