Portimao: OAK Racing race report

OAK Racing take a pair of top-eight finishes in Algarve night race OAK Racing Team Mazda France secured a pair of top-eight LMP2 class finishes as the Le Mans Series visited the new Algarve circuit in Portugal for the first time. The Algarve...

OAK Racing take a pair of top-eight finishes in Algarve night race

OAK Racing Team Mazda France secured a pair of top-eight LMP2 class finishes as the Le Mans Series visited the new Algarve circuit in Portugal for the first time.

The Algarve 1000kms marked the first true night race in the prestigious endurance championship's history and the team's pair of Pescarolo-Mazdas finished sixth and eighth in class in what proved to be a challenging event.

"We are a little disappointed with the results," admitted Team Manager Francois Sicard who has seen the team secure podiums in the last two races, the Le Mans 24 Hours and Spa 1000kms. "We were expecting a bit more from this weekend and another podium was definitely within our reach. The performance was there, particular from Matthieu who was absolutely fantastic today, but not the reliability, although the #35 car still finished as the best-placed Mazda-powered machine. We were also hoping for a good result from the #24 car, but unfortunately a starter motor problem cost us 30 minutes in the pits and destroyed our race."

Matthieu Lahaye: "I am very happy with the way I started the race. We were well down on the grid due to the penalty we received for changing the engine but after a few laps I was up to third place. Unfortunately we quickly encountered various problems, two slow punctures in a row, a lack of fuel pressure and a broken spark plug. We only finished 12th overall and sixth in class despite being one of the fastest LMP2 cars and having second place was within our reach. It is really frustrating."

Karim Ajlani: "It was a hard race both physically and mentally and there was no time to relax. The car was capable of running at the front and Matthieu did a great job at the start to get us into the top three. Thanks to the cohesion in this team, we can remain positive and continue to improve through the rest of the season."

Jacques Nicolet: "My first stint was tough as we lost tyre temperature while waiting on the grid. My team-mate Richard was excellent but unfortunately I had a small spin after being tapped by an Aston Martin and then we had the starter motor issue. I feel very sorry for Matthieu and Karim in the #35 car. Their stunning performances today were sadly not reflected on the result sheet. Matthieu was exceptional on the track and has shown his qualities and those of the car."

Richard Hein: "We gave everything we could but had a few mechanical problems which cost us a strong result. The track is very difficult to learn, with a lot a blind corners and the only place you can relax is on the main straight. Even then it is so bumpy you can't breathe! This weekend though I think Matthieu has moved the whole team up a level and we're ready to mix it with the best."

-credit: oakr

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About this article
Series European Le Mans
Drivers Karim Ajlani , Matthieu Lahaye , Jacques Nicolet , Richard Hein
Teams OAK Racing