OAK Racing overcome tough ELMS opener to take sixth at Paul Ricard
1st April 2012.
OAK Racing began their European Le Mans Series campaign with a top-six finish at the 6 Hours of Le Castellet in France today in spite of several mechanical problems plaguing the team throughout the race.
The driver crew of Jacques Nicolet, Guillaume Moreau and Dominik Kraihamer were forced to overcome an overheating engine, triggered by falling water pressure, to bring the Onroak Automotive-designed and built #24 Morgan 2012 LMP2 home sixth overall.
A trouble-free opening stint from Kraihamer initially suggested the team would be in contention for a podium finish. Those hopes were dashed however after the opening round of pit-stops when, following a tactical decision not to change tyres, the Austrian’s pace suffered dramatically as degradation took its toll.
An earlier than scheduled second stop saw fresh rubber and Moreau installed. On new tyres the improvement in pace was immediate but, having already lost valuable time, the team’s problems were compounded further by the falling water pressure that required a top-up at subsequent stops, costing further precious time.
But despite their various setbacks, the crew were still able to show flashes of the Morgan 2012 LMP2’s undoubted potential en-route to valuable points at this early stage of the season.
Sebastien Philippe, Team Principal:“It was a difficult race and we had a lot of problems. Dominik made a good start and enjoyed a fast, consistent opening stint. But we gambled by double-stinting the tyres which were degrading. We played our hand and lost. There was excessive wear on the front left tyre that contributed to a slow second stint and us losing a lot of time. There were also several engine problems for us to contend with, chief among which was the loss of water pressure. That lead to the engine overheating and time lost in the pits due to us having to top-up throughout the race. It is a shame as the overall performance was quite good. It was a weekend where everything went wrong. Hopefully next time will be better.”
Dominik Kraihamer, driver #24 Morgan 2012 LMP2: “I made a good start and managed to avoid contact before completing a decent first stint despite using the same tyres from qualifying, which began to degrade. When we didn’t change them at the pit-stop it became very difficult. Finding a good set-up was also a challenge and that was before the engine problems developed. There is still work to do. It’s a shame because we are strong and the crew enjoys a great working relationship even if I still have much to learn. Each kilometre is important to me.”
Guillaume Moreau, driver #24 Morgan 2012 LMP2: “I was pretty happy with the car in the race following practice and qualifying. The chassis has become very competitive again so it wasn’t the car’s pace that was the problem but the issue of repeated water pressure loss without knowing the source. Replacing it at every pit-stop cost us a lot of time. It was beyond our control and frustrating to know the car had greater potential. We just have to solve these reliability problems.”
Jacques Nicolet, Team Owner and driver #24 Morgan 2012 LMP2: “From a personal viewpoint I am more satisfied with my performance here than at Sebring [round one of the World Endurance Championship]. It was not easy but I was able to maintain my position despite the car’s difficulties. As team owner though I am disappointed. The result obviously does not at all match our high expectations. The car seems quite competitive even though we did not find the correct set-up. Perhaps we struggled with the schedule of free practice, qualifying and the race inside two days. It’s a timetable that leaves little room to work between sessions and one that we are unaccustomed to. We should be able to better anticipate problems and avoid them happening again.”
OAK Racing’s next outing is round two of this year’s FIA World Endurance Championship – the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps – on May 5.
6 Hours of Le Castellet classification:
1. Thiriet by TDS Racing / Oreca 03 Nissan / Beche, Thiriet / 189 laps
2. Sébastien Loeb Racing / Oreca 03 Nissan / Sarrazin, Minassian, Marroc / -1 lap
3. Status GP / Lola B12/80 Coupé Judd HK / Buurman, Sims, Stirling / -1 lap
4. Greaves Motorsport / Zytek Z11SN Nissan / Brundle, Ordonez, Kimber-Smith / -1 lap
5. Race Performance / Oreca 03 Nissan / Hirschi, Frey, Meichtry / -3 laps
6. OAK Racing / Morgan 2012 LMP2 / Nicolet, Moreau, Kraihamer / -4 laps
7. Pecom Racing / Oreca 03 Nissan / Perez-Companc, Kaffer, Bruni / -6 laps
8. Extreme Limite ARIC / Norma M200P Judd / Rosier, Thirion / -14 laps
9. Jota / Zytek Z11SN Nissan / Hancock, Dolan / -15 laps
Photo credit: DPPI
The total race time was 06h01min 30.348 s and the best lap time was an impressive 01min 49.496 s. Further statistics on the race are found below:
(Courtesy of European Le Mans Series)
OAK Racing is a Le Mans-based endurance racing team specialising in Sport-Prototypes that has competed in a number of prestigious international series, including the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup and the Le Mans 24 Hours. After a number of successful years in the LMP2 class they made the step up to LMP1 in 2011 and capped the season with a third place overall finish at the 6 Hours of Silverstone. At the end of 2011, the team was 2nd in the ILMC ranking in LMP2 class.
The team has competed in the famed orange and blue colours of Gulf Oil during the 2011 campaign through their partnership with CAR OIL, Gulf Lubricants’ exclusive distributor for France, Belgium and Luxembourg. Powered by Judd engines, OAK Racing have acted as the development team forDunlop since 2009 and compete on the company’s tyres in all competitions.
OAK Racing’s recent history has also seen them become involved in the manufacture of Sport-Prototypes with a design office created for this purpose in 2010. The team currently develops the OAK-Pescarolo LMP2 and as of 2011 will make the car available for sale to privateer outfits.
Since late 2006 OAK Racing has been owned by entrepreneur and racing driver Jacques Nicolet.
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ELMS, 6 Hours of Le Castellet – Result
|1||46||LM P2||D||Thiriet by TDS Racing||Mathias Beche Pierre Thiriet||Oreca 03 Nissan||189 laps 6:00:53.302||1:49.369|
|2||19||LM P2||D||Sébastien Loeb Racing||Stéphane Sarrazin Nicolas Minassian Nicolas Marroc||Oreca 03 Nissan||188 laps||1:49.865|
|3||17||LM P2||D||Status GP||Yelmer Buurman Alexander Sims Dean Stirling||Lola B12/80 Coupe Judd HK||188 laps||1:49.525|
|4||1||LM P2||D||Greaves Motorsport||Alex Brundle Lucas Ordonez Tom Kimber-Smith||Zytek Z11SN Nissan||188 laps||1:50.298|
|5||11||LM P2||D||Race Performance||Jonathan Hirschi Michel Frey Ralph Meichtry||Oreca 03 Judd||186 laps||1:50.156|
|6||24||LM P2||D||OAK Racing||Jacques Nicolet Guillaume Moreau Dominik Kraihamer||Morgan Judd||185 laps||149.496|
|7||10||LM P2||D||Pecom Racing||Luis Perez-Companc Pierre Kaffer Gianmaria Bruni||Oreca 03 Nissan||183 laps||1:50.004|
|8||42||LM PC||M||Curtis Racing Technologies||John Hartshorne Phil Keen Alex Kapadia||FLM Oreca 09||177 laps||1:54.675|
|9||66||LM GTE Pro||D||JMW Motorsport||James Walker Jonny Cocker||Ferrari 458 Italia||176 laps||1:59.219|
|10||83||LM GTE Pro||M||JMB Racing||Jaime Melo Marco Frezza||Ferrari 458 Italia||176 laps||1:59.487|
For a further breakdown of results please visit http://www.dailysportscar.com/