OAK Racing Team Mazda France on the podium again OAK Racing Team Mazda France made it four podium finishes from the last five races in 2009 as Jacques Nicolet and Richard Hein took a fine third place in the LMP2 class during the final round of...
OAK Racing Team Mazda France on the podium again
OAK Racing Team Mazda France made it four podium finishes from the last five races in 2009 as Jacques Nicolet and Richard Hein took a fine third place in the LMP2 class during the final round of the Le Mans Series at Silverstone.
Once again the French team's pair of gentlemen drivers drove faultlessly throughout the 1000km race, putting in a succession of consistent stints, while the squad's Pescarolo-Mazda ran trouble-free for the entire five and a half hours.
Starting from fifth on the class grid, Nicolet and Hein held their position during the first half of the race and climbed into the top three during the last two hours to ensure the team ended their European season in style. The result follows Nicolet's and Hein's superb class podium from this year's Le Mans 24 Hours and added to those achieved by team-mates Matthieu Lahaye and Karim Ajlani at the Nurburgring and Spa 1000kms.
Lahaye and Ajlani didn't fare as well as they retired late in the race after a small fire. Despite showing strong pace early on and running in third with Lahaye at the wheel, a spin by Ajlani which resulted in a lengthy pit stop dropped them well down the order before retirement came with 138 laps completed.
Francois Sicard: "We're really happy with a podium. The drivers in the #24 car made no mistakes, had good pace and were reliable. The engine worked well and the Dunlop tyres were excellent allowing us to double stint them. With new engine and tyre partners, 2009 was a transitional season for OAK Racing, so it has been a good year. We must now work hard over the winter because next year we want to be challenging for class wins and the title and to improve on our third place finishes at Le Mans in '08 and '09."
Jacques Nicolet: "The race was fantastic for us, we had some good fights throughout the field and the car was fantastic to drive. It worked well without any problems and the new compound tyres from Dunlop were superb and very easy to double stint. I'm very proud of this result to conclude the season as it rewards the dedication and motivation of the entire team."
Richard Hein: "This is my first podium in the Le Mans Series so I'm really happy. If someone had told me before the start of the season that I would have finished on the podium at Le Mans and in the LMS I wouldn't have believed them. We've made it this far by working step by step and the result is deserved by all the team as well as the guys from Dunlop and Mazda."
Matthieu Lahaye: "I made a good start and was fighting with the leaders in that opening stint. The car was really good and even when we rejoined after the long stop I was the fastest LMP2 car on track. It's a shame we didn't finish, but the team has done a great job and really exploited our technical package to the maximum."
Karim Ajlani: "We were running third when I was touched through Copse on the right rear corner. It then felt a bit strange going into Stowe and later in the lap it spun. As I tried to rejoin I went in the gravel and lost a lot of time and our race was effectively over."
While OAK Racing's European season may be at an end, they will be back on track later in the year as the team travels to the Far East to take part in the inaugural Asian Le Mans Series. The French team will fly the flag for Mazda at the double-headed race meeting at Okayama, Japan on Saturday 31 October -- Sunday 1 November.
-credit: oak racing