OAK Racing has been forced to retire its #15 OAK/Pescarolo LMP1 from this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours after two-thirds distance.
The car shared by Franck Montagny, Bertrand Baguette and Dominik Kraihamer had been running ninth in class when an engine problem sidelined the car just before 07:00 local time at Circuit de la Sarthe.
OAK Racing’s hopes now solely rest with Bas Leinders, Maxime Martin and David Heinemeier Hansson whose #35 Morgan-Nissan 2012 LMP2 is once again running strongly after overcoming a difficult period just before midnight. The trio currently occupy seventh in class with six hours still remaining.
Jacques Nicolet, Team Owner: “It’s been a difficult night for the team. When I went to bed we were leading LMP2 with #24, while #35 was also well placed and #15 running. But when I woke up, #24 had retired and the #15’s engine was showing signs of weakness before that car was also retired shortly after. Meanwhile #35 suffered four successive punctures and also had its electronics changed, so the night was also difficult for that car. However, at least it is still there and making progress. Hopefully we can now reach the finish with one of the three. The team has nothing to be ashamed of, our cars were amazingly well prepared and there was great motivation on the part of everyone to get things done. We demonstrated how competitive the car is but, unfortunately, the engine’s reliability cruelly failed us. All I can say is that we will have to make strategic choices, which will begin tomorrow.”
Sebastien Philippe, Team Principal: “I am very disappointed. With #24 we were on target and demonstrated from the beginning that we could be extremely competitive with both LMP2s, which were running first and second in class for a very long time. But the reliability cruelly failed us again. I am very disappointed for the whole team which doesn’t deserve for this to end badly. #35 is still on track, although we were unlucky with a series of punctures last night. They ensured that it fell a long way back, but at least it is now running strongly. The car’s performance has allowed me to feel slightly more positive.”