Portimao: OAK Racing preview

OAK Racing Team Mazda France target podium The third round of the Le Mans Series takes place on 1 August at the Portimao circuit in Portugal, giving OAK Racing Team Mazda France a chance to repeat its excellent result from the Le Mans 24 ...

OAK Racing Team Mazda France target podium

The third round of the Le Mans Series takes place on 1 August at the Portimao circuit in Portugal, giving OAK Racing Team Mazda France a chance to repeat its excellent result from the Le Mans 24 Hours.

The team has enjoyed a positive first half to the season, scoring two podium finishes from three races, one in the Spa 1000kms and, for the second consecutive season, one at the Le Mans 24 Hours. The entire OAK Racing team are determined to continue moving forward and even improving on these results in the Le Mans Series for the remainder of the season, perhaps even as soon as the Algarve race. For the Algarve 1000kms the team can look forward to using an engine which has benefitted from several evolutions made by AER and Mazda, with a test session at Magny-Cours in July allowing the squad to prepare for the Portimao race. Dunlop will also play its part at what is a very technical circuit, having tested a new specification of tyres at Dijon at the end of May. The new-spec front and rear tyres should slightly improve the performance of the car in comparison with the tyres used at the beginning of the season. Hopes of a good result are therefore high in a championship where the standings are delicately poised. After the Spa 1000kms, the team and its drivers sit in fifth position in the championship with eight points, just three behind the points leaders.

Francois Sicard, OAK Racing Team Manager:

"Third place for the #24 car at the Le Mans 24 Hours was a reward for the hard work and effort of the previous two years. It was a deserved podium. Good race management and a lack of any errors from the three gentlemen drivers made for a faultless race and, with a bit of luck, were rewarded with a podium finish. After a break in the championship, during which time we had the big event of the year at Le Mans and have also been busy working, we are raring to go racing and we hope to visit the LMS podium again. The Algarve circuit is very technical, with a lot of gradient changes and numerous blind corners. For us, like a majority of the field, it will be our first visit there. The race, which like Le Mans takes place partly at night, should not disorientate us too much though!"

Jacques Nicolet, President of OAK Racing:

"Our mid-season report is very positive and builds our expectations. Third at Le Mans showed the ability of this team to put a car on the LMP2 podium in two very different circumstances. The engines didn't use the same type of technology. As for the driver line-ups, the 'young guns' of 2008 and the gentlemen drivers of 2009 had virtually opposite mentalities and objectives when it comes to motorsport. In both cases, the team knew how to coach its drivers and bring them the same result by adopting strategies that were appropriate to their individual qualities. Moreover, partnerships with Mazda and Dunlop have become successfully established which validates the strategic choices of the team and give us the wish to progress together. This success also pushes forward our desire to achieve even stronger results, starting with the 1000km of Portimao."

Thierry Guillemot, President of Mazda France:

"The podium at the Le Mans 24 Hours crowned a great partnership between Mazda France and OAK Racing. We were delighted to see that a car powered by a small 2 litre Mazda engine was able to take the chequered flag in third place against some strong opposition. But this triumph was also about the competence of a team which worked very hard to prepare the car, as well as the experience of Jacques, Richard and Jean-Francois who all managed the race with a lot of intelligence. We hope that the Algarve race will give us another chance to prove that we have a winning combination!"

John Doonan, Mazda North America Competition Manager

"There is certainly excitement among all of us at Mazda and our Le Mans Series teams to get back to the track following the Le Mans 24 Hours. The entire Mazda family was so proud of the effort put in by all of our teams and we are thrilled to think that the moment of the OAK Racing podium finish in France can carry over to a solid result here in Portugal. For OAK Racing, the focus now becomes the Le Mans Series LMP2 Championship and continuing to finish races and seeking to gather as many points as possible. We have every confidence in the entire OAK organization and we know that championship is within reach."

Jean-Felix Bazelin, Dunlop Motorsport Managing Director:

"We were delighted with the result at Le Mans and it reinforced our belief that our decision to work with OAK Racing was an excellent one. Relations with OAK Racing were established at the end of 2008 with the feeling that our two teams were made for each other. The wish to start a collaboration has become, in a very short space of time, a positive partnership for both parties. That has been proven by some very good results, with the pinnacle being the podium at Le Mans."

-credit: oakr

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About this article
Series European Le Mans
Drivers Jacques Nicolet
Teams OAK Racing