Two podiums in two races for OAK Racing Team Mazda France! Car ...
Two podiums in two races for OAK Racing Team Mazda France! Car #35 finishes third ahead of car #24 in fourth.
OAK Racing Team Mazda France continued its superb start to the season, which began with the Paul Ricard 8 Hours at the beginning of April, at Spa-Francorchamps this weekend. The second round of the 2010 Le Mans Series, held at famous Belgian circuit in the country's Ardennes region, saw the Nevers-based team again demonstrate the performance and reliability of its drivers and its two Pescarolo-Judds.
The #35 car, driven by Guillaume Moreau and Richard Hein, finished third in the LMP2 category, achieving its second consecutive podium of the season; the #24 car, raced by Matthieu Lahaye and Jacques Nicolet again finished in fourth position. The #35 also won the Michelin X Green Challenge.
The Spa event, a dress rehearsal for the forthcoming Le Mans 24 Hours, was a chaotic affair held in difficult and unpredictable weather conditions which caused several accidents and interventions by the Safety Car. Competitors also had to deal with a red flag, which saw the race stopped for 30 minutes during the second hour of the race following a power cut at the circuit!
Francois Sicard, Team Manager: "It has been an extremely difficult event with a lot of traps and difficult track conditions and a red flag period which lasted more than half an hour. In these circumstances, to finish third and fourth and win the Michelin Green X Challenge with the #35 car is a very good result. We have again scored some important points and we are now second and fourth in the championship. Unfortunately, the stoppage of the race did not play in our favour and without this interruption I am certain that we could have placed both cars on the podium. Nevertheless, the two Pescarolo-Judds finished in the top ten of the overall classification, and when you take into account that four LMP1 diesel Peugeots and three Audis started the race, this confirms that we are competitive and things are looking good one month before Le Mans."
Guillaume Moreau: "I made a good start in difficult track conditions. The circuit was dry in some areas and damp on others but I was able to climb up into second place. Towards the end of the race I replaced Richard and rejoined the track on wet tyres; unfortunately, it was only a shower and the strategy did not pay off. Our consistency since the beginning of the year has allowed us to take a good position in the championship and I am delighted to be on the podium again, even if we could have finished second today."
Richard Hein: "The race wasn't easy but we came out of it well with another podium finish. We were unlucky because the red flag came out just as we were about to pit to refuel and our car was held in parc ferme conditions on the grid. We had to pit immediately after the restart which lost us a lap to the leaders straight away. Two podiums from two races is nevertheless a great result."
Jacques Nicolet: "This excellent overall result again confirms the potential of the team, especially as it was such a peculiar event and we got both cars to the finish in good positions, which is quite positive ahead of Le Mans. For me, our strategy regarding fuel consumption was difficult as I didn't have enough power during overtaking manoeuvres. A big thank you to the entire team and all our partners."
Matthieu Lahaye: "It's a shame to finish just outside the podium places again, but the red flag cost us a lot. I took the start and did a double stint but then ten seconds before I came back into the pits for Jacques to replace me, the race was stopped. We found ourselves under Parc Ferme conditions but (as a Gold driver) the calculation of my time in the car continued until the new start which meant that Jacques then had to drive a lot. We fought for the podium until the end and this result is positive for all the team. We have shown again this weekend our level of performance in qualifying where we set the third fastest time behind the two Honda powered cars."
The next round of the Le Mans Series will take place in Portugal on the Algarve circuit on 17 July. Before then, the two Pescarolo-Judds of OAK Racing Team Mazda France will compete in the biggest endurance race in the world, the Le Mans 24 Hours, which will take place on 12 and 13 June and where the Nevers-based team will try to score a podium finish for the third consecutive year.