OAK Racing were left to rue what might have been at the 6 Hours of Silverstone today after an unfortunate safety car period ended their hopes of an LMP2 class victory in round four of the FIA World Endurance Championship, eventually settling for fourth position.
Matthieu Lahaye’s rapid opening run initially helped the Onroak Automotive designed and built #24 Morgan-Nissan 2012 LMP2 climb up to fourth place after starting 12th before Olivier Pla fought his way through to lead. Jacques Nicolet’s impressive double stint then saw the car occupy second place heading into the final 90 minutes only for a scheduled pit-stop to coincide with the safety car being deployed.
Under championship regulations Pla, who had replaced Nicolet, was held at the pit exit before being allowed to re-join behind one of two safety cars, dropping the Morgan down to eighth.
Despite a spirited drive, which included setting the fastest LMP2 lap on three separate occasions, the Frenchman was unable to make up the deficit, eventually coming home fourth of the WEC-registered entries and sixth in the combined class.
The #35 sister Morgan also displayed plenty of pace throughout the six hours but was never a contender after losing seven laps while a starter motor was replaced at its first pit-stop.
Bertrand Baguette, Dominik Kraihamer and David Heinemeier Hansson were all in impressive form as each did their best to climb back up the order. In the end they were rewarded with a tenth place finish.
Sebastien Philippe, Team Principal: “The timing of the safety car was really bad for us. We stopped just before it was deployed so there was a red light at the end of the pit-lane that we were held at for a long time. We lost two laps which undid all of our hard work having been a net 20 seconds behind the leader. But what can we do? The pace was good and all three drivers were excellent. Olivier was fast, Jacques didn’t put a foot wrong and kept us in contention while Matthieu did a great job to climb up from 12th to fourth. The same can be said for the #35 car which unfortunately didn’t stand a chance after its early problem. The standard in LMP2 is just too high.”
Olivier Pla, #24 Morgan-Nissan 2012 LMP2: “Everything was going well before the safety car. We had the pace for victory so it’s a huge shame. We have to accept it but I can’t understand why we were held for so long at the end of the pits. I think both safety cars went past while I was waiting there. It’s frustrating of course but we shouldn’t forget that the new package of Onroak Automotive chassis, Dunlop tyres and Nissan engine worked very well.”
Dominik Kraihamer, #35 Morgan-Nissan 2012 LMP2: “We lost so much time changing the starter motor which cost us any chance today. The driver line-up showed plenty of speed though, especially David (Heinemeier Hansson) who set some very impressive times. We can’t change the result so I’ll just look forward to the next one. The team tried a few different things and I gained some experience, which is important to me personally.”
The FIA World Endurance Championship continues in Brazil with round five – the 6 Hours of Sao Paulo – on September 15.
Source: OAK Racing