OAK Racing 2011 season preview

OAK Racing unveils its sporting programme

OAK Racing will carry the orange and blue colours of its new partner, CAR OIL, the exclusive licensee and distributor of Gulf Lubricants in Belgium, France and Luxemburg, in the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup this season having applied to the ACO for three entries for their OAK-Pescarolo prototypes, two in LMP1 and one in LMP2. The driver line-ups are ready and the ACO will announce its decision on 9 February.

An ambitious sporting programme: LMP1 and LMP2 in ILMC

After three successive endurance racing campaigns in LMP2 and three consecutive podiums at the Le Mans 24 Hours, OAK Racing has decided to attack the premier LMP1 category with the aim of winning the battle of the petrol cars and filling the places behind Audi and Peugeot.

OAK Racing will do battle in the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, following the team's success in winning the LMP2 title in the series' inaugural season in 2010.

The team has applied for three entries for its OAK-Pescarolo prototypes to the ACO, two in LMP1 and one in LMP2.

After its strong results in 2010, OAK Racing has also received four LMP2 invitations for the Le Mans 24 Hours. The team will use one of these entries and will run a second LMP2 OAK-Pescarolo during the event at La Sarthe.

If the ACO accepts the team's entries to the ILMC, there will be four OAK-Pescarolo prototypes at the 79th edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours, as the race is an integral part of the new international series initiated by the ACO.

The prototypes, developed by the team's design office - newly installed at the Le Mans Technoparc, will again be powered by Judd and fitted with Dunlop tyres.

The LMP1 OAK-Pescarolos will run under the 2011 regulations and be powered by the V8 Judd DB 3.4 litre engine. The LMP2 cars will be equipped with the new V8 Judd HK 3.6 litre engine. "We want to prove that our LMP2 is one of the best products on the market. In a way it will be like our 'show car', the flag bearer of our manufacturing activity," said OAK Racing Managing Director Francois Sicard.

New quality partnerships, including the famous Gulf Lubricants

In its bid to succeed with the programme, the team will benefit from the support of several significant partners. Dunlop, tyre supplier for the LMP2s for the past two years, has strengthened an already solid partnership and nominated OAK Racing as its exclusive development team in LMP1.

Another big name in motorsport is also joining the team this year. OAK Racing will carry the orange and blue colours of Gulf Oils. This famous lubricant brand has been involved in motorsport for more than 40 years and clinched many victories via the teams they have supported.

"I am delighted to start a new collaboration with OAK Racing following their excellent 2008 and 2009 seasons when we were also partners," says Michel Majot, Chief Executive Officer of CAR OIL SA. "The MAJOT group has manufactured and sold lubricants since 1910. Our links with Gulf also go back a long way as the collaboration started around 1930. In 1998, Gulf Oil International offered CAR OIL the exclusive license for the manufacture and sale of lubricants under the Gulf brand in Belgium, France and Luxemburg. CAR OIL has been for many years, and will continue to be, a regular sponsor of motorsport."

Meanwhile, the team will also receive the support of new partners such as Cari and Serge Blanco this year, while BRm Chronographs and Family Village have renewed their agreements, as well as many members of the Pitlane Club, the team's club which for several years has brought together different businesses such as ACR-SYGA and SCREG. Many other partners are also in the process of joining the club.

Very competitive driver line-ups

The driver line-ups charged with getting the three OAK-Pescarolo prototypes on the podium have also been finalised.

The 26-year-old Matthieu Lahaye from Rennes, who finished third in the Le Mans Series and second at the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2010, has signed for his fourth consecutive season with the team. He will share one of the LMP1 cars with two other top drivers, both of which have already been confirmed by the team: Guillaume Moreau and Pierre Ragues. Moreau is entering his third year with the team, while Ragues makes his return to his first endurance racing squad.

"I am delighted to sign with OAK Racing for a fourth year," said Lahaye. "It's a bit like my second family as I've been part of this adventure from the beginning. The move to LMP1 and the ILMC is a logical one after three rewarding seasons in LMP2. I was hoping it would happen and to do it with OAK Racing alongside two excellent drivers and friends is a great pleasure. I know the entire team well and I know what is being done with the car, so I am sure that OAK Racing can be an excellent LMP1 team. It is a great opportunity for us."

The line-up, which mixes youth and speed as well as remarkable reliability and huge podium experience in endurance racing, is guaranteed to add excitement to the LMP1 entry list.

In the second LMP1, OAK Racing has decided to place its gentlemen drivers. Team owner Jacques Nicolet will therefore be joined throughout the season by Richard Hein, who enters his fourth year with the team.

Jean-Francois Yvon will complete the line-up for Sebring, Petit Le Mans and the Le Mans 24 Hours. It will be his third appearance at La Sarthe with the team, which includes an LMP2 podium in 2009 with Richard and Jacques. The crew has already proved its competitiveness and won't be satisfied with simply making up the numbers. Its level of experience means that strong results are expected from this LMP1 car too.

In LMP2, the line-up, as stipulated by the regulations, will be a mix of gentlemen drivers and a professional. Patrice Lafargue and Frederic Da Rocha are back to defend the ILMC LMP2 title they won with the team last year and they will be supported by a new recruit in Andrea Barlesi. At just 19 years of age, the youngster, who holds dual Belgian and Italian nationality, already has numerous podiums on his CV in both French and European karting championships as well as the Clio Cup and in 2010 he made a superb debut in endurance racing by winning the Formula Le Mans title.

"I am delighted with the trust that OAK Racing has shown by welcoming me for the 2011 season," said Barlesi. "I come here in a very humble frame of mind and with the desire to learn as much as I can from my very experienced team-mates as well as the younger drivers in LMP1. The team spirit here makes OAK Racing a formidable environment in which to grow in endurance racing and make progress."

The crew of the fourth OAK-Pescarolo prototype, which will only take part in the Le Mans 24 Hours, has yet to be completely finalised.

The team's 40 employees are eagerly awaiting the results of the requests submitted to the ACO for the 2011 ILMC. The verdict will be given on 9 February, with the season kicking off in the United States with the 12 Hours of Sebring.

-source: oak racing

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About this article
Series ALMS , Le Mans , European Le Mans
Drivers Jean-François Yvon , Pierre Ragues , Matthieu Lahaye , Guillaume Moreau , Jacques Nicolet , Richard Hein , Andrea Barlesi , Patrice Lafargue
Teams OAK Racing