OAK Racing eyes strong ELMS opener at Paul Ricard

OAK Racing will be looking to build on their successful start to 2012 when the team’s attention switches to the opening round of this year’s European Le Mans Series – the 6 Hours of Le Castellet – at Paul Ricard this weekend (April 1).The French outfit will field an Onroak Automotive-designed and built Morgan 2012 LMP2 on home turf after demonstrating its potential during the opening FIA World Endurance Championship round at Sebring less than two weeks ago where the car qualified on pole position, set fastest race lap and finished second in class. As well as carrying over its good form from Sebring, OAK Racing can also look to the recent official ELMS test at Paul Ricard, where it finished top of the timesheets, as further reason to be confident of making a strong start to the European season.Team Owner Jacques Nicolet, who was part of that podium-finishing driver line-up in Florida, will be joined at the wheel of the #24 car by Guillaume Moreau and Dominik Kraihamer. Two-thirds of OAK Racing’s WEC LMP1 crew, they also appeared well set for a strong result at Sebring before engine problems forced their retirement after nine hours. In addition, the squad will revert to its traditional black and pink livery for the opening round of the ELMS, which for the first time sees LMP2 machinery represent the premier prototype category.Sebastien Philippe, Team Principal: “OAK Racing returns to the European Le Mans Series hoping to shine at the 6 Hours of Le Castellet thanks to the combination of an excellent car and engine. That was demonstrated with strong performances at the official test day and Sebring where we took pole position and an LMP2 class podium after just missing out on victory. We’ve put together a fast and reliable crew in the #24 Morgan 2012 LMP2 for the opening round in the form of Jacques Nicolet, Guillaume Moreau and Dominik Kraihamer. We will be doing everything possible to challenge for victory.”   Jacques Nicolet, Team Owner and driver: “I would like to congratulate Series organisers for making LMP2 its premier category. It’s finally a form of acknowledgement the private teams had been waiting for. It’s the most well represented class in the Series, as well as at the Le Mans 24 Hours. Competition will be very open between all the teams which should increase public interest and allow the ELMS to establish itself as a major endurance championship at a time when the economy is not favourable for organising new series.”Guillaume Moreau: “I am delighted to be contesting the European Le Mans Series, especially as it will be the first time I will have raced with Jacques. This will be my fourth season with OAK Racing, a team to whom I partly owe my endurance racing career, so it’s an event that will hold special meaning. It’s also an opportunity to race alongside my new WEC team-mate Dominik so together we form a very strong trio for this opening ELMS race. Sebring demonstrated the Morgan 2012 LMP2’s potential so I am looking forward to achieving a good result on Sunday, which will erase some of the frustration I felt in America. Nevertheless, we must still be wary of our rivals as the level of competition on the entry list is quite high.”Dominik Kraihamer: “It’s great to be part of this ELMS adventure, especially as it offers an opportunity to accumulate more seat time with OAK Racing. Joining up with my WEC team-mate Guillaume can only be beneficial on all levels, as it will be with Jacques. In addition, the Morgan 2012 LMP2 is performing well as we saw during official testing at Le Castellet and in Sebring, which offers reasons to hope for a good result. I know Le Castellet well having driven there a lot and feel at home there. I cannot wait to arrive.” Catch live pan-European ELMS coverage on Motors TV throughout 2012 with streaming and timing from every round also available on europeanlemansseries.com.6 Hours of Le Castellet timetable:Saturday 31 March09:15 – 10:45: Free Practice 113:00 – 14:30: Free Practice 215:50 – 16:10: Qualifying (LMP2/FLM)Sunday 1 April08:15 – 08:35: Warm-up12:00 – 18:00: Race