Petit Le Mans, OAK Racing Team Mazda France's first race on the American continent, has concluded with a podium! The ...
Petit Le Mans, OAK Racing Team Mazda France's first race on the American continent, has concluded with a podium! The #35 Pescarolo-Judd and its crew of gentlemen drivers, Jacques Nicolet, Frederic Da Rocha and Patrice Lafargue, finished third in the LMP2 category, behind the extremely quick HPD Highcroft and the Porsche RS Spyder of Muscle Milk Racing. Overall it took ninth place in this prestigious event.
The 1000 miles of Road Atlanta was the final round of this year's American Le Mans Series and the second of the brand new Intercontinental Le Mans Cup (ILMC), launched by the Automobile Club de l'Ouest. It is as part of the latter championship that OAK Racing participated in this magnificent race.
After taking a podium at the first round of the ILMC - last month's 1000kms of Silverstone - this third place at Petit Le Mans ensures victory for the team in the ILMC's LMP2 category ahead of the final round of the series, which will take place on 7 November in Zhuhai.
Nevertheless, OAK Racing will not be short on motivation in China and will make sure it adds another top-three finish to its 2010 racing CV: four podiums in five Le Mans Series races, a second place at the Le Mans 24 Hours, victory in the Michelin Green X Challenge and this latest podium in the American Le Mans Series.
Francois Sicard, Team Manager: "A podium at Petit Le Mans is a great way to acquaint ourselves with the US and the ALMS! However, the result was not easy to achieve. The ACO regulations in place in the ILMC did not work in our favour, as, for example, they are more stringent than ALMS regs with regards to the air intakes. So we could not hope for more!
"In addition to this, we were welcoming two brand new drivers, Frederic Da Rocha and Patrice Lafargue, the latter of whom was making his LMP2 debut! But the team knows how to provide drivers with the right conditions to achieve significant sporting results. We were able to prepare well during practice and familiarise ourselves with American racing regulations, which are full of idiosyncrasies. The squad was able to gather this information and even play around with it, and they are reaching maturity."
Frederic Da Rocha, driver: "It is fabulous: our first time at Petit Le Mans and we leave with a podium! The event lives up to its great reputation, as does the circuit, with its gradient changes, blind corners and minimal run-off areas. In addition to this, I did not know much of the Pescarolo LMP2 car before coming here, but it is perfect; extremely efficient and at the same time easy to drive, even allowing small errors. For gentlemen drivers like us this is an extraordinary result! A big thank you to OAK Racing - its experience brought us this result."
Patrice Lafargue, driver: "This podium is a delight! Over the course of the week I have gone from apprehension to pleasure. It was not going to be easy, as I had to learn everything: the circuit, the car, traffic management, data work and the management of information during the race, which is a sophisticated technique. I started racing in historic cars, where you switch on the engine and simply go racing, full stop! It is more a question of feeling. Here, you have to learn to be rigorous. Tonight, life is beautiful!"
Jacques Nicolet, OAK Racing Team Owner and driver: "A podium at Petit Le Mans is a wonderful baptism of fire for the team! We came here to learn and prepare for 2011 and have left with a podium, and as such victory in the ILMC.
"We have been supported by our technical partners, Judd and Dunlop, with whom we have produced an excellent team effort. The Judd engine was as reliable as ever and perfectly tuned for the event, and we have benefited from some excellent sets of tyres from Dunlop.
"I have had the great pleasure of getting to know two new team mates who have proved to be consistent and fast during a difficult and spectacular race, and all this with an exceptional atmosphere. There is competition on the track, but only on the track, and the welcome we have received from the organisers and the American public has been simply extraordinary, giving us a strong desire to come back. We are proud to have carried the colours of Mazda Automobiles France on American soil in this Mazda Sport USA-sponsored event!"