Top five finish in Spa for OAK Racing's Lahaye and Ajlani Matthieu Lahaye and Karim Ajlani drove a mistake-free race for the entire Spa 1000kms to finish fifth in the LMP2 class despite overheating problems, which slowed their progress from the...
Top five finish in Spa for OAK Racing's Lahaye and Ajlani
Matthieu Lahaye and Karim Ajlani drove a mistake-free race for the entire Spa 1000kms to finish fifth in the LMP2 class despite overheating problems, which slowed their progress from the mid-point of the race.
The second round of the Le Mans Series, set on the famous circuit in the Belgian Ardennes mountains, was a race full of potential pitfalls, but the two youngsters didn't make any errors despite various incidents, a dirty track and several lengthy Safety Car periods.
Frenchman Matthieu Lahaye, who has now finished every single race since his Le Mans Series debut in 2008, said: "The car was running well during my first double stint and the new 2009 aero package has allowed us to progress well. The car is more efficient and we have the potential to fight with the Lolas and Zyteks, even though this didn't happen today."
Syrian racer Karim Ajlani took the start of a race in the Le Mans Series for the first time: "The first laps were quite chaotic with several drivers being quite aggressive. Everything went well during my first hour in the race and the car had a good balance. After that I followed the team's instructions to look after the car and finish the race, ensuring we secured our fifth place finish and scored some championship points."
Team Manager Francois Sicard said: "The team worked really hard to make sure that the 35 car ran this weekend with the new 2009 Pescarolo aero package. We are happy with our level of performance and the new evolutions have moved us closer to the competition. We have managed to secure another fifth place and now we'll do everything we can to get ready for the Le Mans 24 Hours. A big thank you to Karim and Matthieu for driving such an intelligent race. They have secured this result despite the technical issues we had. Karim is less experienced than Matthieu and didn't run much during testing, so his performance is very encouraging for the rest of the season as he drove a very solid race."
Francois also explained the retirement of the 24 car: "I feel very sorry for Jacques Nicolet and Richard Hein. Unfortunately Jacques had a small fire, which could have been quite serious, during the formation lap and had to retire. Our thanks go to the marshals who reacted very quickly and limited the damage."
John Doonen, competition manager for Mazda North America said: "I am delighted to have been able to attend the Spa race to support the four Mazda teams. I was impressed by the presentation and professionalism of OAK Racing and I am delighted that Mazda France joined with us to allow this project to happen. We're disappointed that the 24 car had a problem during the formation lap, but satisfied that the 35 car finished the race in the top five. We have a lot of work ahead of us to prepare for Le Mans and I'm thrilled that so many cars with a Mazda engine will compete in this mythical race."