OAK Racing’s #35 LMP2 maintains second place in ILMC
Reassuring news from Matthieu Lahaye
OAK Racing’s difficult Intercontinental Le Mans Cup weekend did at least conclude on a positive note last night at Spa-Francorchamps where the #35 LMP2 scored solid points with sixth in class that helped maintain its second place in the ILMC standings. The brand new LMP2, produced by OAK Racing’s in-house Design Office, confirmed the potential already demonstrated at Sebring and was an encouraging performance ahead of June’s Le Mans 24 Hours.
The second piece of good news concerns Matthieu Lahaye who suffered a major accident whilst at the wheel of the #15 LMP1 during Friday afternoon’s qualifying session. Matthieu is currently surrounded by his family at the Verviers hospital where Belgian doctors have identified injuries to the first lumbar vertebra, left knee and right hand thumb. This initial diagnosis is expected to be confirmed by specialists at the La Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital in Paris, where Matthieu will be transferred tomorrow morning.
Matthieu Lahaye: “A big thank you for all the messages I have received since Friday night which have been very touching. Unfortunately, I have no recollection of what happened and am really sorry for the entire squad and my team-mates who do not deserve this twist of fate before Le Mans. The car felt really good this weekend and it is even more frustrating as we had the potential to clinch a good result. I will do everything to recover quickly as I’m already bored!”
François Sicard, OAK Racing Managing Director: “The result for the #35 LMP2 and Andrea Barlesi, Frédéric Da Rocha and Patrice Lafargue offers great satisfaction to the entire team and confirms the crew’s second place in the ILMC standings. Despite starting from the pits following an air box problem, before contact sustained during the race ensured a suspension mounting failure, the crew produced a great performance which included an extraordinary comeback and clearly demonstrated the car’s potential. We now need to continue working and acquire further data in order to refine the set-up. The LMP1’s pace during free practice was also very encouraging and I am convinced that we could have clinched an excellent result in the race.
“Matthieu’s accident on Friday was difficult to accept for OAK Racing which has never in the past four years endured such a succession of difficult events. Nevertheless, the quality of a racing team is measured in its capacity to rebound after such challenges and I know that we have the capacity to do just that. But for now all of our thoughts are for Matthieu.”
Frédéric Da Rocha: “I would like to wish from the bottom of my heart Matthieu a quick recovery. I had to start from the pits and this, added to his accident, affected me a bit. It took me half a stint to find a good rhythm. Patrice then did a fantastic job before handing over to Andrea. I finished the race and really enjoyed myself despite the tricky track conditions. This weekend was overly positive for the #35 car as we finished the race and scored important championship points. I am optimistic for Le Mans.”
Andrea Barlesi: “I was relieved following the positive news regarding Matthieu and wish him a speedy recovery as well as returning in good form. This was my first race at Spa and the circuit is really magnificent. The car performed well in qualifying on Friday but I could not maximise our potential after being blocked on my best lap. The car is balanced, well conceived, predictable to drive and we feel confident with it. We have progressed since Sebring but still need to fine tune the set-up. We will have a good car at Le Mans.”
Jacques Nicolet, President of OAK Racing: “Matthieu’s accident was an emotional moment for many of the team members and the worst event in my career as a team boss. The impact was particularly violent but fortunately the car stood up as well as could be expected thanks to the progress made in terms of safety.
“Video footage and the initial data analysis have so far not allowed us to understand the accident’s circumstances. There is nothing to suggest a mechanical failure while the driver of the FLM car, with whom contact was made, is not responsible.
“Apart from the special friendship I enjoy with Matthieu, who has been with us since OAK Racing’s beginnings and was my team-mate in 2010, he is extremely popular within the team and is an important part of the spirit and atmosphere that exists here. He is also a very talented driver and knows how to push the limits when necessary. I hope that he recovers very quickly and we are already awaiting his return.
“We now need to move on and adapt ourselves in order to arrive at Le Mans in the best possible shape. The difficulties we have faced since the Test Day are events that are part of normal life at a racing team and we have been lucky not to face them until now. Unfortunately they have arrived together in a very short period of time, one month before the 24 Hours, and following a winter period which was already very busy. We were hoping to reward the entire team’s hard work before Le Mans instead of having to face new logistical and mental challenges.
“The #35 LMP2’s performance is this weekend’s little corner of blue sky. The drivers felt comfortable and confident at this circuit. That’s very important for them and the team ahead of Le Mans.”
-source: oak racing