OAK Racing begins Petit Le Mans preparations at Road Atlanta

Petit Le Mans, the penultimate round of this year's Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, sees OAK Racing enter three OAK-Pescarolo prototypes (two in LMP1 and one LMP2) resplendent in the iconic orange and blue racing livery of Gulf Oil International.The team travels to Road Atlanta in the US hoping to continue its recent good form following third and fifth place overall finishes for the #24 and #15 LMP1 entries respectively at the 6 Hours of Silverstone, as well as the #35's LMP2 class ILMC victory.In preparation for the classic 1000-mile/10-hour race this Saturday (October 1), OAK Racing has spent the past two days attending a private test session at the circuit.The programme included two principle objectives: First, the team's nine drivers had to refamiliarise themselves with Road Atlanta's demanding layout which includes a number of challenging corners and blind bends, most notably the feared 'Turn1'. The team then turned to set-up work and endurance tyre testing. Despite the hot or wet conditions present throughout both days, all objectives were achieved while each car's performance also appears promising.Sébastien Philippe, Team Manager: "Overall, we can be quite satisfied with the two days of testing. In LMP2, we improved the set-ups while the #35 crew of Jacques Nicolet, Frédéric Da Rocha and Patrice Lafargue had total confidence in the car which was confirmed by their lap times. We are therefore hoping for an excellent race result, even if we still need to work on reliability. The heat is a factor for both the drivers and cars with a track temperature above 40 degrees Celsius."We have encountered a few problems with the LMP1s' power steering which is certainly linked to the particular nature of the famous Turn 1 where lateral forces reach 3.5G. Nevertheless, the performance is there and we are targeting a second consecutive 'petrol cars' victory with our two crews of Matthieu Lahaye, Guillaume Moreau and Pierre Ragues in the #15 car and Olivier Pla, Alexandre Prémat and Jean-François Yvon aboard the #24. Having said that, it will be a long race featuring heavy traffic and numerous Safety Car periods. It's these characteristics of American racing that await all of our drivers so I expect strategy and consistency to be key factors. Free practice on Wednesday and Thursday provide an opportunity to make adjustments and will allow us to really gauge our position amongst our fellow competitors."Guillaume Moreau, driver of the #15 LMP1: "Although we did not complete much running on Sunday, we were one of the few teams to sample the wet conditions on Monday morning, which allowed us to validate a lot of parametres with Dunlop. I had no prior experience of Road Atlanta but was still able to familiarise myself with the layout. For its blind corner entries and elevation changes you need a big heart, but I was very quickly into the correct rhythm. The race will be more complicated. Only 20 cars shared the track for the test but more than 50 are scheduled to start on Saturday, which is an average of more than 14 cars per kilometre!"Olivier Pla, driver of the #24 LMP1: "These two test days have been very constructive. All of the car's plus points have been confirmed as we continue the progress made at the previous Barcelona tests and then the Silverstone race. Road Atlanta, where I drove in 2008, is a fantastic circuit and the sort we should have in Europe. You need the confidence to just let the car go, which is where the real pleasure comes from. The major difficulty remains traffic management. On Saturday, the key will be not to make a single mistake in an effort to remain as close as possible to the diesel cars and then grab an opportunity should it arise, just like at Silverstone."Jacques Nicolet, driver of the #35 LMP2: "The car's set-up is perfectly suited to a gentlemen driver's profile and I had a lot of pleasure driving it on my return to LMP2. At the same time, I have rejoined the same crew with which I finished on the podium here and won the ILMC LMP2 title last season. Things are looking good for this year, especially as we are running with a brand new OAK-Pescarolo which is even more efficient."It is worth noting that a fourth OAK-Pescarolo, the #22 LMP2, has been entered by United Autosports for drivers Stefan Johansson, Mark Patterson and Zak Brown.Petit Le Mans timetable (local time unless stated):Wednesday 28 September:ILMC testing: 14:45 - 16:45 (20:45 - 22:45 CET)Thursday 29 September:Free practice 1: 10:00 - 11:00 (16:00 - 17:00 CET) Free practice 2: 14:55 - 15:55 (20:55 - 21:55 CET) Free practice 3: 19:00 - 21:00 (02:00 - 04:00 CET)Friday 30 September:Qualifying: 15:30 - 15:45 (21:30 - 21:45 CET)Saturday 1st October:Warm up: 9:15 - 9:40 (15:15 - 15:40 CET)Race: 11:30 (17:30 CET)