Former Formula One driver Tiago Monteiro will replace the injured Matthieu Lahaye at the wheel of OAK Racing’s #15 LMP1 during this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours on June 11/12.
The 34-year-old, who will partner Guillaume Moreau and Pierre Ragues, enjoys an impressive racing CV that covers many different motorsport categories. A regular in FIA World Championships, Monteiro scored one podium during his two seasons of Formula One with Jordan Grand Prix before switching to the World Touring Car Championship where he continues to enjoy great success with SEAT. The Portuguese ace can also count on recent prototype racing experience having contested the Le Mans 24 Hours and LMS in 2009, while a year earlier he became team boss of GP2 outfit Ocean Racing Technology.
OAK Racing will nevertheless miss team stalwart Lahaye who is still recovering from injuries sustained during a qualifying accident for the 1000km of Spa-Francorchamps on May 6. It will be the first time the team has contested Le Mans without the Frenchman driving one of its cars.
Managing Director François Sicard confirmed however that the arrival of a high quality replacement for Lahaye had offered a timely boost to morale. “We are extremely happy to welcome Tiago for the Le Mans 24 Hours. As a driver and personality Matthieu is difficult to replace, but we see Tiago’s arrival as a significant positive who shares many of the same attributes. Throughout his career Tiago has always been as popular on the human side as he is sporting. He is a remarkable driver, fast, reliable and a very engaging person true to the spirit of endurance racing. This arrival offers a real boost to the team which really needed one at this difficult time.”
Monteiro meanwhile is delighted to be making his Le Mans 24 Hours return. “Le Mans is a very special race and to do it with OAK Racing is fantastic! I would like to thank Jacques Nicolet and François Sicard for offering me such an opportunity. I already know several team members well and appreciate their qualities, whilst also acknowledging that the OAK Racing has a real chance amongst the petrol cars. We do not have much time left in order to prepare but I will rise to the challenge. Hopefully I will be able to make the whole team proud, especially Matthieu Lahaye, to whom I would like to send all my best wishes for a speedy recovery.”
Everyone at OAK Racing joins Monteiro in wishing Matthieu, who has now returned home to Rennes in Brittany, a successful recovery. He was discharged from La Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital in Paris last weekend following his transfer there at the start of the week for a more detailed exam of vertebrae, hand and knee. Although a brace should be sufficient to consolidate the two broken and crushed L1 and T10 vertebrae over the next three months, he will have knee surgery to remove bone shrapnel created by the impact and hand surgery tomorrow.
-source: oak racing