OAK Racing left frustrated with Spa qualifying

#35 OAK Racing Morgan Judd: David Heinemeier Hansson, Bas Leinders
#35 OAK Racing Morgan Judd: David Heinemeier Hansson, Bas Leinders

Photo by: Ed Fahey

A frustrating qualifying session for the second round of this year’s FIA World Endurance Championship saw OAK Racing just miss out on a second consecutive LMP2 class pole position at Spa-Francorchamps today.

Having secured top spot at Sebring in March, and headed the times during free practice here, hopes were high that Olivier Pla could once again thrust the #24 Morgan 2012 LMP2 on to the front row. But in such a highly-competitive class even the slightest setback can cost several positions and so it proved when traffic on his first flying lap severely hampered the Frenchman’s progress.

With the tyres past their best, Pla’s best lap of 2m09.656 was good enough for fourth in class, albeit just 0.3 seconds shy of pole position.

Meanwhile the #35 Morgan 2012 LMP2 lines up eighth in a tightly-congested LMP2 midfield thanks to Bas Leinders’ best of 2m10.875 which was also severely affected by traffic.

Having struggled to find a set-up for much of free practice, the team were not surprised to see their #15 OAK-Pescarolo LMP1 qualify 10th overall. That was in spite of Guillaume Moreau pulling out all the stops to turn a lap of 2m07.504, a significant improvement over the car’s earlier pace.

Sebastien Philippe, Team Manager: “We have struggled since yesterday morning to find a good set-up with the LMP1. We’ve made some progress since then but there is still a lot of work to do. We will wait and see tomorrow when the weather conditions could be very different. Concerning LMP2, it’s very close at the front so when you have a little traffic it can make a big difference. We could have been on pole had Olivier not been hindered. Starting P4 won’t make a big difference in the race, although it’s always a shame to miss out on pole. I’m quite happy with the #35’s performance especially as Bas has little experience of this car.”

Guillaume Moreau, #15 OAK-Pescarolo LMP1: “Since opening practice yesterday the car has suffered from a lack of grip, especially at the rear which we tried to fix but there was no real improvement. Clearly it will be difficult if the race remains dry so I’m hoping for rain. Of course qualifying is one thing and the race quite another. The Rebellion in particular has improved greatly which explains the gap at this stage.”

Olivier Pla, #24 Morgan 2012 LMP2: “I’m a bit frustrated because we certainly had the pace for pole position. The best of the grip was on my first flying lap but I was overtaken by two Audis (LMP1) which cost me some time. Then the grip was gone. I know that had we been able to fully attack we would have taken pole. We’re not sure what the weather will do tomorrow so we will take it as it comes.”

Bas Leinders, #35 Morgan 2012 LMP2: “Personally I’m a bit disappointed by my performance. After this morning, when I sampled new tyres for the first time, I was hoping to gain from the experience. But on my fastest lap I was hindered by another car which cost maybe four tenths. If I put all of my fastest sectors together there was six or seven tenths available. Perhaps I pushed a little too much. The car felt quite good so I’m looking forward to a good run in tomorrow’s race.”