Guillaume Moreau: From the Le Mans 24 Hours to the Formula Renault 3.5 Series Guillaume Moreau drove an OAK Racing-entered Mazda-powered LM P2 prototype in the Le Mans 24 Hours. It was another enriching experience for the young Frenchman on his...
Guillaume Moreau: From the Le Mans 24 Hours to the Formula Renault 3.5 Series
Guillaume Moreau drove an OAK Racing-entered Mazda-powered LM P2 prototype in the Le Mans 24 Hours. It was another enriching experience for the young Frenchman on his third outing in the Sarthe classic. He is now going to concentrate all his efforts on the rest of the season in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series with the SG Formula/KMP Group team.
Following his break with the Luc Alphand Adventures squad only a few days before the Le Mans 24 Hours, Moreau able to take advantage of an excellent offer to start the greatest endurance race in the world in a prototype backed by Mazda. "I was very happy and very proud to have the opportunity to race in the Le Mans 24 Hours with the OAK Racing Mazda Team France. It was very important for me to get back behind the wheel of a prototype. I received a warm welcome from a well-structured ambitious team."
After scrutineering and the traditional weigh-in at Les Jacobins, Moreau got to grips with the car in Wednesday's free practice session. "It wasn't easy. After starting the season in GT1, I had to find my feet in a prototype on the 24-Hours circuit. And in the rain! We were able to work on the traction control. Even in these conditions the Pescarolo chassis was very efficient, and it really stuck to the track. I was among the quickest in the category."
On Thursday in qualifying, Moreau did the setup work for his team-mates. "We were quick right from the word go with a lap in 3m 46s without really pushing. I handed over to Karim Ajlani but our programme was slightly delayed by a problem with the power steering. When Matthieu Lahaye went out to do the qualifying time he didn't really have enough information. Even so he lapped in 3m 45s on soft tyres. If everything had gone according to plan we could have got round in 3m 42s. It's a shame as we should have been able to make our mark in that session with a quick driver and a good chassis, engine and tyre package. I felt that we missed a great opportunity to help the OAK Racing Team and Mazda make the impact it deserved."
At 15h00 on Saturday came the moment everybody had been waiting for. The no.35 prototype set off with 54 other cars in front of 234 800 spectators. "We made a good start. Karim did the first stint and then I took over followed by Matthieu. Despite a few minor electrical problems we gradually moved up the LM P2 time sheets. I set quick times and I paid attention when overtaking. Our pace was good and well within our safety zone."
Unfortunately, an engine problem slowed no.35 during the night. "We tried to find a solution while we continued racing but the engine was losing too much oil. We had to stop after 17 hours for safety reasons: it was a disappointment for the whole team. We had the potential to finish on the rostrum in LM P2 as the third place of the team's other car proved. The package was very competitive. This collaboration between OAK Racing, the Pescarolo chassis, Mazda and Dunlop is very promising. I'm proud to have shared this experience with them. I'd really like to thank Jacques Nicolet, John Doonan, the President of Mazdaspeed North America, Thierry Guillernot, President of Mazda France and Francois Sicard for having put their trust in me for this unique event. I hope that we can do some more races together."
Despite his early retirement, Guillaume is still very keen on endurance racing and is impressed by the potential of the team he drove for for the first time in this year's 24 Hours. "The Le Mans ambience is still unique. We had an exceptional week and the Parade is a very intense experience with an amazing public. I'm really happy to have bounced back thanks to OAK Racing. The decision taken by the Luc Alphand Adventures Racing team put me in a difficult situation in relation to my partners, but my latest experience is more than positive. The OAK Racing Team is very tightly knit with strong human relationships, which reinforce the sporting and technical aspects of our sport. I was able to share the race with a couple of winners of a competition organised by the Limousin Region. It was a great initiative by my region, which is heavily involved with me, and which enabled two supporters to see the behind-the-scenes activities of a top-class team in the Le Mans 24 Hours."
The rest of the season will see Guillaume make his comeback to single seater racing in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series with the SG Formula/KMP Group. "I'm really very happy to be back with Stephane Guerin's team and the world of single-seaters. In my last season with SG Formula we had fourteen podium finishes in seventeen races! A big challenge awaits us and I want to help them fine-tune the car to try and score a podium finish before the end of the season. It's a great opportunity for me to be back in such a competitive championship. At Silverstone and for the rest of the year we're going to work hard to show the whole team's potential."
Next rendezvous: 5th -- 6th July at Silverstone followed by the World Series by Renault meeting on the Le Mans Bugatti circuit on 18th -- 19th July.