Motorsport News - Sportscar
Perfect team performance helps OAK Racing to victory at 6 hrs Donington
16th July 2012A combination of excellent strategy, pace and reliability helped contribute to OAK Racing claiming their first European Le Mans Series victory of the season at the 6 Hours of Donington today.
The French teams #35 Onroak Automotive designed and built Morgan-Nissan 2012 LMP2 of Olivier Pla, Bertrand Baguette and Dimitri Enjalbert ran faultlessly throughout a race that also saw the #24 Judd-powered sister car come home sixth.
Having recorded his maiden prototype pole position on Saturday, Matthieu Lahaye maintained the #24s advantage over his opening double stint while, behind, Baguette battled through to run third.
Jacques Nicolet showed strong pace after replacing his team-mate Lahaye but later incurred a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pits. His misfortune would open the door for Enjalbert however who, making his LMP2 class debut this weekend, produced a very strong double stint albeit one punctuated by a safety car period to maintain the #35s victory chances after Baguette had earlier assumed the lead.
With the safety car negating all of the #35s advantage however, the stage was set for Pla to re-establish the cars lead over his final three stints en route to a 21-second victory.
Its a win that not only lifts OAK Racing up to second in the championship standings but also one the team would like to dedicate to their injured driver Guillaume Moreau.
Sbastien Philippe, Team Principal: I am delighted with Matthieus performance after following up yesterdays great pole position with an excellent start today. He managed it perfectly before we encountered some technical issues with the #24 car. Regarding #35, we experienced two very difficult days on Friday and Saturday due to technical issues that prevented us from completing much running in free practice. Despite that Olivier managed to qualify the car only three tenths off pole position, which on its own was exceptional but especially so as he didnt know the circuit. During the race all three drivers did a perfect job. Bertrand was able to maintain a good rhythm at the start and increase his pace at the right moment in order to take the lead. Dimitris objective meanwhile was not easy. He had completed virtually no running in the car, has little experience and had to take the wheel while leading. He managed very well mentally. But then the safety car negated all of our advantage. Nevertheless, Olivier delivered the sort of performance that we all know he is capable of to maintain the lead and bring the car home.
Jacques Nicolet, Team Owner and driver #24 Morgan-Judd 2012 LMP2: As Team Owner, I am delighted with the result. It is a great reward for the entire teams hard work. But sometimes that alone is not enough and a number of things have to fall into place. I cant say that the #35s weekend began well. The crew barely completed any running during practice and Olivier went in to qualifying without driving the car. So this is a really great performance. I am also very proud of Matthieu for his first two stints. He did a fantastic job and drove as though it was a grand prix. He remained at the front for nearly two hours despite it being very tight and resisting great pressure without making any mistakes. As a driver, I had a lot of fun during my first stint and perhaps rediscovered a good feeling with the car. I am happy to have produced the right level of performance for a gentleman driver.
Matthieu Lahaye, #24 Morgan-Judd 2012 LMP2: Overall its been a positive weekend. Until last week I was not sure whether I would race at Donington and we are now leaving having set pole position. I really enjoyed my first stint and had a great battle with Sam Hancock. I resisted for nearly two hours before handing the car over to Jacques. We then experienced a few electronic issues during the race.
Bertrand Baguette, #35 Morgan-Nissan 2012 LMP2: The start was not as easy as it looked because I was in the dirty air of Sam Hancocks car, which created a lot of understeer. That very quickly destroyed my front tyres. But from the moment we put on a new set I was able to reduce our deficit by 30 seconds. Our only regret is that Jacques and Matthieu were not on the podium with us.
OAK Racing will return to action in six weeks (August 26) at Silverstone for round four of this seasons FIA World Endurance Championship.
6 Hours of Donington results:
1. OAK Racing / #35 Morgan-Nissan 2012 LMP2 / Pla-Baguette-Enjalbert / 251 laps
2. Thiriet by TDS Racing / #46 Oreca 03 Nissan / Beche-Thiriet / +21.574secs
3. Murphy Prototypes / #18 Oreca 03 Nissan / Firth-Hughes-Hartley / +32.365secs
4. Sebastien Loeb Racing / #19 Oreca 03 Nissan / Sarrazin-Minassian-Marroc / +1 lap
5. Pecom Racing / #10 Oreca 03 Nissan / Companc-Kaffer-Ayari / +5 laps
6. OAK Racing / #24 Morgan-Judd 2012 LMP2 / Nicolet-Lahaye / +7 laps
7. Greaves Motorsport / #1 Oreca 03 Nissan / Brundle-Ordonez-Kimber-Smith / +17 laps
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