In the European Le Mans Series
With their sights set on victory at Petit Le Mans following Olivier Pla’s LM P2 class pole position yesterday, OAK Racing would be left frustrated in the famed American event by a recurring starter problem on their #35 Morgan-Nissan.
Second in the European Le Mans Series standings ahead of the season finale, the
Le Mans-based squad needed to outscore rivals Thiriet by TDS Racing to clinch the title in the series’ premier LM P2 category.
The plan was on course as OAK Racing owner-driver Jacques Nicolet started from pole alongside the sister Morgan 2012 LM P2 of Conquest Endurance. Following a strong triple stint, the silver graded pilot handed over to team-mate Bertrand Baguette in fourth overall and third in class.
The Belgian ace, who had not driven the Road Atlanta circuit until Wednesday’s opening practice, took over for a double stint. Unfortunately, following his first pit stop Baguette was unable to fire-up the car, forcing the crew to replace the starter motor and costing the Morgan-Nissan six laps to the LM P2 leader.
Pla then took over behind the wheel and continued his team-mates’ hard work to come within just one lap of OAK Racing’s title rivals, only for another starter failure to further slow their progress. The Morgan-Nissan 2012 LM P2 machine took the chequered flag eighth overall and fifth amongst the LM P2s competing in Petit Le Mans. They ended the European Le Mans Series second in the race and secured runner-up honours in the 2012 LM P2 Drivers’ classification as well as second in the Teams’ standings.
Onroak Automotive, OAK Racing’s constructor division who designed and built the Morgan 2012 LM P2, can also take great pride from the performance shown by Conquest Endurance who concluded their campaign with a highly competitive display at Road Atlanta. The team end the season as runners-up in the American Le Mans Series LM P2 class.
Jacques Nicolet, #35 Morgan-Nissan 2012 LM P2 owner and driver: “We can be extremely satisfied with Conquest Endurance’s performance as the American team was very close to winning the LM P2 class, leading until just a few laps from the end. It shows how good this car is. Meanwhile OAK Racing showed good speed, but two starter failures kept our expectations in check. I am quite happy with my driving because I was on track for almost three consecutive hours and was third in LM P2 and fourth overall when I handed over to Bertrand (Baguette). We showed strong pace and everything was there for us to secure a great result, but mechanical issue prevented it.”
Bertrand Baguette, #35 Morgan-Nissan 2012 LM P2: “The race started very well as Jacques (Nicolet) had a great stint and reached the target of staying on the same lap as the LM P2 class leader. My first stint was good, but when I tried to re-start the car we suffered a starter problem that put us six laps down. Olivier (Pla) and I pushed as much as we could, but we then had further issues with the starter. The drivers and the pit stops were quick, but mechanical problems let us down and prevented us from taking a great result in the race. It’s a shame because the circuit is nice and varied and I love the American style of racing with its lively atmosphere and lots of RVs around the track.”
Olivier Pla, #35 Morgan-Nissan 2012 LM P2: “Everything was under control and we were running at a good pace. Jacques (Nicolet) did a fantastic job spending the better part of three hours in the car while remaining consistent – my hat goes off to him for that. Unfortunately we had two starter failures that held us back despite the car being very fast, which is tough to accept. We came here to win in the LM P2 class and had the strategy and car to do so.”