Bertrand Baguette, Martin Plowman and Ricardo Gonzalez will contest this year’s FIA World Endurance Championship aboard OAK Racing’s #35 Morgan LM P2, the French team is pleased to announce today.
The championship’s ultra-competitive LM P2 class has prompted the team to field two equally strong driver line-ups for its pair of Morgan LM P2s.
Each will be relying on the already proven package of Morgan chassis – designed and built by OAK Racing’s manufacturer department Onroak Automotive – Nissan engines and Dunlop tyres, with whom OAK Racing has renewed its official partnership for a fifth-straight season.
Former single-seater and IndyCar driver Baguette remains with the team for a second campaign after making his endurance racing debut in the 2012 WEC as part of OAK Racing’s LM P1 programme.
Likewise Martin Plowman who, having also previously raced in IndyCar, made the switch to endurance racing last season. Several class victories and pole positions behind the wheel of a Morgan LM P2 in the American Le Mans Series contributed to an impressive debut for the Briton who will now carry his existing knowledge of the car into 2013.
The line-up’s silver-grade position has been filled by 35-year-old Mexican Ricardo Gonzalez who, despite being new to the team and car, is no endurance racing novice.
Stints in Formula 3 and World Series by Renault were followed by a seven-year break from motorsport, before returning in 2010 to contest the American Le Mans Series’ LMPC class. Having won the title in 2011, he switched to the WEC’s LMP2 category last season.
Both will carry the Le Mans-based squad’s traditional pink and black livery.
The driver line-up, livery and programme for OAK Racing’s #45 Morgan LM P2, which will include the Le Mans 24 Hours, is due to be announced shortly.
Sébastien Philippe, Team Principal: “I am very proud and happy with the composition of our new FIA World Endurance Championship crew, which I feel is just as competitive and consistent as #24’s. Bertrand and Martin know all about the Morgan LM P2 from 2012, making them a very strong and experienced duo.
Meanwhile Ricardo is a silver-rated driver of great talent who has been around the endurance racing scene since 2010 and will greatly benefit from his team-mates’ experience. Together they can also work with #24’s drivers.
This is a genuine opportunity to run two entries capable of fighting for victories and start the season with a car that has a year of development behind, not to mention one that proved itself during 2012. We should be at the heart of the battle.”
Bertrand Baguette: “I am delighted and proud to once again be part of the OAK Racing family in 2013. I would like to thank Sébastien Philippe and Jacques Nicolet for the trust they have placed in me.
With Ricardo and Martin, we are a highly-competitive crew able to challenge for podiums and victories. OAK Racing has two high-calibre line-ups that are among the best in the field.
This will be a boost to everyone and push us forward. I feel a great motivation within the team. I will give total commitment in order to achieve a successful season with our Morgan LM P2.”
Martin Plowman: “I'm excited to finally be able to announce my plans for the upcoming campaign. It has been a long off-season for me and I am extremely grateful to OAK Racing for showing their belief in my abilities by bringing me into the team.
Last year I had a successful debut season with their chassis in the American Le Mans Series, so to get the call from the factory team to race in the World Endurance Championship is a huge honour.
There will be a lot of hard work ahead to prepare for the season but I will be surrounded by a very strong engineering team and, of course, partnered with two very strong drivers who I respect.
I can't wait to get to work, especially as we look towards the Le Mans 24 Hours. It is one of the top three races on my bucket list, so to finally be able to take part in such a historic race will be a dream come true.”
Ricardo Gonzalez: “I'm very excited to be joining OAK Racing this year. We had a long off-season and took our time to evaluate all the options to make sure we could find the best programme for me.
We wanted to ensure that I could fight for the championship and victory at Le Mans. There's no doubt that we have achieved that: OAK Racing has always been a top team and I have no doubt that we will be one of the cars to beat.
This will be my second year in the FIA World Endurance Championship, so now that I have more experience under my belt and know all the tracks it’s time to go to every event with nothing but a win in mind.
Today we are beginning our testing programme and it will be a good chance to get to know the team and my team-mates, and start preparing for the first race at Silverstone. I can't wait to drive the Morgan LM P2 for the first time and to get back behind the wheel after such a long off-season.”
OAK Racing will take part in the official FIA WEC pre-season test at Paul Ricard on March 29/30 in preparation for the opening round at Silverstone on April 13/14.