Leinders, Martin and Heinemeier Hansson complete OAK Racing’s #35 Morgan 2012 LMP2 Le Mans line-up
Along with its regular LMP1 and LMP2 FIA World Endurance Championship entries, OAK Racing will field a third car at this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours for Bas Leinders, Maxime Martin and David Heinemeier Hansson who are now confirmed behind the wheel of the French outfit’s #35 Morgan 2012 LMP2.
Belgian ace Leinders, who is captain of the RACB National Team, boasts vast experience across all forms of motorsport which should prove invaluable to his team-mates. Following an excellent single-seater career that included stints in F3, F3000 and World Series by Nissan, he moved to GT racing where further success has continued. 2012 will see Leinders make his third visit to La Sarthe where he finished seventh overall driving an LMP1 prototype last season.
He is joined at the team by countryman and fellow GT frontrunner Maxime Martin. The pair have already established a successful partnership in FIA GT and the Blancpain Endurance Series – winning last weekend’s opening round at Monza with Marc VDS Racing – as well as in sports-prototypes at Le Mans. Martin will also defend the Belgian colours of the RACB National Team of which he very recently became a member.
Completing the trio is gentleman driver David Heinemeier Hansson who, despite not making his debut at the Le Mans 24 Hours until later this year, will already boast significant knowledge of the Morgan 2012 LMP2 as part of Conquest Endurance’s ALMS programme. Indeed, last weekend saw the Dane finish as class runner-up at Long Beach, his second podium in as many rounds.
A test at Le Mans’ Bugatti circuit on April 19 provides an opportunity for both Belgian drivers to familiarise themselves with the Morgan 2012 LMP2, before Leinders and Heinemeier Hansson join forces for the WEC’s second round of the season at Spa-Francorchamps on May 5. Martin, whose existing ADAC GT Masters commitments will see him race at Zandvoort over the same weekend, will join the crew for a test at Spa two days later in preparation for the Le Mans 24 Hours.
The addition of Martin and Leinders sees a total of three Belgian drivers donning OAK Racing overalls in 2012, with RACB National Team ace Bertrand Baguette part of the regular WEC #15 OAK-Pescarolo LMP1 squad that also includes Guillaume Moreau and Dominik Kraihamer. Meanwhile, the #24 Morgan 2012 LMP2 line-up is an all-Franco affair courtesy of Jacques Nicolet, Matthieu Lahaye and Olivier Pla.
Sebastien Philippe, OAK Racing Team Principal: “The #35 Morgan 2012 LMP2 crew is a well balanced combination. For the past 20 years Bas has competed in a wide variety of categories and each time at a high level. Maxime, who is younger and perhaps less well known but nevertheless extremely fast, also already benefits from much experience and success. Both know Spa very well and have also competed at the Le Mans 24 Hours. While David will be making his debut in Belgium and at Le Mans, as well as being the car’s mandatory gentleman driver, he does benefit from having already raced the LMP2 car in the ALMS where his potential is developing round by round. The crew therefore boasts many advantages and certainly has great potential.”
Bas Leinders: “I am very happy to be joining OAK Racing for the Le Mans 24 Hours and 6 Hours of Spa. It’s a well organised programme and one that allows for significant testing before and after the Spa event which will also be sound preparation for the 24 Hours. I have a good feeling about joining the LMP2 class, which will be a new experience for me even though I raced in LMP1 in 2011. It is with much excitement that I am returning to La Sarthe with a superb car.”
Maxime Martin: “To participate for a second time at this famous race following my 2011 debut in LMP1 is truly fantastic, especially as it will be with OAK Racing alongside my countryman Bas Leinders. We have a good car and I am convinced that we are capable of scoring a strong result. I would like to thank Marc van der Straten who has renewed his confidence in me and without whom I would not be here.”
David Heinemeier Hansson: “I'm thrilled to be joining OAK Racing for the 6 Hours of Spa and Le Mans 24 Hours. It has been my dream to race at Le Mans for many years and I could not have wished for a better team and car to do it in. The Morgan 2012 LMP2 has already shown incredible pace at the 12 Hours of Sebring and most recently at the Long Beach race. It's also fantastic that I can continue driving the same car that I'm already very familiar with from the Conquest Endurance programme in the ALMS. So with a great driver line-up, great car and a great team, I think we have everything in place to be a serious contender for the podium in both races. It's certainly not going to be easy with so many good teams in LMP2 this year, but I couldn't ask for a better shot at it.”
Round two of the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship takes place at Spa-Francorchamps on May 5 ahead of preparations for the campaign’s showpiece event, the Le Mans 24 Hours, on June 16/17.