OAK Racing finish on the LMP2 podium for a second successive year For the second year in a row OAK Racing scored an LMP2 podium at the Le Mans 24 Hours as Jacques Nicolet, Richard Hein and Jean-Francois Yvon guided their ...
OAK Racing finish on the LMP2 podium for a second successive year
For the second year in a row OAK Racing scored an LMP2 podium at the Le Mans 24 Hours as Jacques Nicolet, Richard Hein and Jean-Francois Yvon guided their #24 Pescarolo-Mazda to third in class, the three gentlemen-racers driving a solid, intelligent, error-free race. The result is a huge reward for the team, who have worked non-stop since the beginning of the year, as well as the French squad's partners Mazda USA, Mazda France and Dunlop.
"I am very pleased for all of the team," said Team Manager Francois Sicard after stepping off the podium. "We've had a very busy winter as our partnerships with Mazda and Dunlop were confirmed quite late. We had to adapt the chassis to the Mazda engine and then to the new Pescarolo aero package, all of which represented a significant programme. To be on the podium at Le Mans, following our top three finish in the Spa 1000kms in May, is exceptional and shows the quality of OAK Racing, its staff and partners.
"Pre-race we may have thought that the younger crew in the #35 car were more likely to reach the podium, but unfortunately they had several technical issues during the race and were forced to retire at 8.30 this morning. Nevertheless it is absolutely fantastic that our trio of gentlemen drivers have sampled the podium as they made no mistakes during the race and followed the strategy they were given perfectly. This year's race is the third participation at Le Mans by the team, so to finish on the podium twice in a row just confirms how professional we are. The result is very promising for the rest of the season."
Jacques Nicolet: "This is a childhood dream come true. I am extremely proud for the whole team and it is a just reward for the huge amount of work that we have undertaken alongside Pescarolo Sport, Mazda and Dunlop this winter. We are a privateer team and the 2009 programme has handed a lot of responsibility to our drivers and partners. I am delighted our team was able to put a Pescarolo, with a Mazda engine, Dunlop tyres and three very passionate drivers on the podium."
Richard Hein: "Our objective was always to finish the race. We came here full of ambition but we were determined to enjoy ourselves at the same time. OAK Racing, Mazda and Dunlop gave us a reliable car which allowed us to finish the race without any problems."
Jean-Francois Yvon: "It is great to score a third place finish. OAK Racing is a fantastic team and everybody worked hard to achieve this result. The chassis was perfect during the race and even in the morning the car felt good to drive. It's a pleasure to drive for this team, which possess a real human spirit and terrific work ethic."
Thierry Guillemot, General Manager of Mazda France: "To finish on the podium of the Le Mans 24 Hours is a massive achievement for Mazda France and Mazda USA. OAK Racing prepared for this event with great maturity and their race management was very intelligent, so a big thank you to the entire team. I would like to dedicate this result to the memory of Neil Warrior, Director of Public Relations for Mazda Europe, who was amongst the passengers lost onboard flight AF447 from Rio de Janeiro."
John Doonan, Competitions Manager of Mazda North America: "We have just lived a very special moment full of emotion for Mazda. We are not a massive car manufacturer and our resources are limited, so to score a podium with our partners Mazda France and OAK Racing in our first Le Mans 24 Hours together is simply exceptional. Robert Davis and all the management of Mazda North America are keen supporters of our race programme and to score such a result at Le Mans means a lot for the group."
The #35 Pescarolo Mazda couldn't repeat its exploits of 2008 and had to retire just over 17 hours into the race due to an engine problem.
Matthieu Lahaye: "The race started well for us. We were competitive and the chassis was exceptional in all the fast corners. Unfortunately, in the early hours of the morning we started to have some concerns with the engine. We had the potential to make the podium again, and that makes me confident for the rest of the season, and I am also delighted for my team-mates in the #24 car."
Karim Ajlani: "Our mechanics did an exceptional job to try and help us finish the race and I am very thankful to them. Le Mans is a real challenge of both man and machine and I learned a lot this week. We have done a lot of kilometres this week and this will be beneficial to us for the remainder of the season."
Guillaume Moreau: "We were competitive and the car was simply fantastic to drive, with lots of downforce. The team has been first class all week and I am delighted to have been able to play my part in this adventure with OAK Racing. It is a superb, friendly team that is also very professional."