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Category: 24 Hours of Le Mans

Archie Hamilton (22, Basingstoke) will race in the Le Mans 24 Hours, 60 years after his grandfather, Duncan Hamilton, won the legendary event. Archie will join the G Drive Racing by Delta-ADR team in an Oreca 03 Nissan.

Archie has raced cars since 2007, working his way up from Formula Ford through to Formula Renault where he became vice-champion in the BARC series, Porsche Carrera Cup and most recently International GT Open in which he finished third in the GTS class in 2012. Archie has varied experience through occasional drives including Le Mans Prototype testing in the USA, driving a Lamborghini in the Dubai 24 Hours and winning the City Challenge in the Porsche Supercup class. 2012 saw him selected as an Academy Driver by the Motorsport Association and being awarded Rising Star status by the British Racing Drivers Club. Archie previously finished on the Le Mans podium in the junior class of the 2010 Porsche Carrera Cup France supporting the main race.

Duncan Hamilton, Archie’s grandfather, contested Le Mans nine times. Most famously he won in 1953 co-driving a works C-Type Jaguar with Tony Rolt.

Archie Hamilton:
“This has been my dream for a long time. While it will be my first attempt it won’t be my last but making my debut in the year of my grandfather’s anniversary makes it very special.

“While every car is different I don’t expect it to be too dissimilar from the prototypes I’ve driven before. It’s amazing to join such a professional team. The team and car are a great combination and I’m really looking forward to the whole Le Mans experience. I’m really pleased to have Paul Thomas as my engineer and Simon Dowson managing the team. From the first time I visited the squad I knew they were the best in LMP2. Alan [Docking] was a big part of my attraction to the squad with all his experience.

“Obviously winning is the goal but so much can happen. To finish in my first year would be brilliant – anything after that would be an amazing bonus. I will do my best to look after the car, drive consistently and work with the team to get the best result possible. I will do everything I can to make my family proud of me for following my grandfather’s driving line.”

Lotus LMP2Lotus Praga LMP2 is pleased to announce its driver line-up for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The legendary race at the Sarthe will celebrate its 90th anniversary this year and is the highlight on the 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship calendar.

After its first participation last year, Lotus is fielding two of the new Lotus Praga T128 LMP2 cars. Kevin Weeda, James Rossiter and Christophe Bouchut will be at the wheel of #31. For Weeda it will be the first time to race at the endurance classic. Rossiter was already contesting in 2011, whereas Bouchut counts among the endurance experts and will celebrate his 20th participation at Le Mans this year. The Frenchman even won the 24 Hours race in 1993.

Thomas Holzer, Dominik Kraihamer and Jan Charouz will compete in the sister car #32. All of them already gained experience at the Circuit des 24 Heures at their participations in the previous years.

The legendary endurance classic is one of the greatest racing spectacles in the world and Lotus is proud to have a strong line-up for its second participation at this historical event.

The Lotus Praga T128 LMP2 will have its first appearance at the Circuit des 24 Heures in Le Mans during the official test day on Sunday, 09th June 2013. The race starts on Saturday, 22nd June at 15:00 hours.

Lotus T128Lotus releases a first photo of the Lotus T128’s monocoque. The driver cell of the T128 was developed in accordance with the 2014 LMP1 regulations.

Improved safety, visibility and driver comfort have been paramount in the development of the chassis. The T128 provides a better view for the driver from inside the cockpit. An extensive mock-up program has been carried through in order to verify ergonomics and driver accessibility.

Lotus gives a first insight into what to expect from the new sports cars of the 2014 generation. The T128 will run in LMP2 class in the 2013 season.

After a successful first year in FIA WEC, Lotus will compete in LMP2 class with two brand-new Lotus T128 in 2013. The ACO has invited the team to race at the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans. The endurance classic at the Sarthe celebrates its 90th anniversary this year and it will be a great honour for the team to compete with the new black and gold Lotus sports car.

OAK RacingGuillaume Moreau has returned to his home region of Le Limousin after spending the last two-and-a-half months recovering at specialist rehabilitation centre The Arch in Le Mans.

His violent accident at Circuit de la Sarthe during the Le Mans Test Day on June 3 caused severe trauma to his spinal cord that required two operations at the University Hospital of Angers. With the initial rehabilitation now complete, Guillaume will begin a new phase of recovery helped by the sports medicine department, headed by Dr Jean-Yves Salle, at the CHU Limoges.

Guillaume’s speedy progress at The Arch prompted doctors to cut short his stay, allowing him to return home and enjoy everyday life while continuing daily rehabilitation. Indeed, Guillaume is now walking, albeit without full fluidity, driving his car and even succeeded in cycling. The majority of his muscles have recovered their full movement in the timeframe expected by the medical team after his second operation, and in some cases even faster. And while complete sensitivity has not yet returned, the recovery process is continuing to follow a logical course that offers much hope for the future.

All of his energy has gone into this initial step of what will be a lengthy recovery process, but it is now vital that Guillaume spares some efforts while continuing rehabilitation to allow his body time to fully recover. It will only be after this phase that doctors can, at the end of the year, establish a prognosis for the level of ultimate recovery.

Guillaume Moreau, OAK Racing driver: “When I discover that I am not progressing fast enough, and feel that I have reached a plateau, I remember the diagnosis upon arriving at the hospital along with the wheelchair-bound future that had been predicted. But two-and-a-half months later I can walk, which is the first miracle. The aim of the surgeon who operated in Angers, Dr. Lucas, was to afford me an opportunity to get back in a racing car. December offers me a new target, when the first verdict will be given. I know that the road is still long and uncertain but I have the same objective as the surgeon. An accident like mine leads to much thought and awareness of, in particular, the question of safety which unfortunately requires accidents of this nature to take place in order for further advances to be made, but the passion is still there. I have also remained in very close contact with my team OAK Racing, with whom I have on-going exchanges.

“In the meantime, I am very happy to be back home and amongst familiar surroundings again. I will start rehabilitation at CHU Limoges, and in parallel can regain fitness thanks to my osteopath Patrick Jouhaud and my physical trainer Sophie Roulaud. Both have followed me for years and know me well. Theirs will be valuable support during this new phase, which might put my patience to the test!”

Jacques Nicolet, President of OAK Racing: “I am delighted that the quality of care he has received and his temperament as an elite athlete allowed Guillaume to shorten his stay in Angers and Le Mans, and return home sooner to Le Limousin, a region that matters so much to him. There he will rediscover on a daily basis emotional and sporting surroundings that will help aid his recovery. I also have great admiration and confidence in his fighting spirit that we see in life and on-track. Since the start his will has not ceased to surprise us all, including the nursing staff that have had to make a special effort to adapt to the extraordinary will of a patient who they have had to force to relax! He has demonstrated that the competition is not solely confined to the track and that current results suggest every outcome is still possible. For Guillaume this is the most important endurance race of his life and I know that whatever happens we will continue to team-up with him.”

Photo by Alexis Gourre.

Franck Montagny will return to the Le Mans 24 Hours next week (June 16/17) as cover for the injured Guillaume Moreau at OAK Racing.

The 34-year-old French ace is renowned as one of the fastest LMP1 sportscar drivers having racked up four outright podium finishes at Le Mans over the past five years, as well as boasting Formula 1 and IndyCar experience.

Montagny joins fellow former World Series champion Bertrand Baguette and Dominik Kraihamer aboard the #15 OAK/Pescarolo LMP1 vacated by Moreau, who fractured his back in a high-speed accident at the Le Mans Test Day last Sunday.

With such little time between the Test Day and start of official practice next Wednesday, the team is understandably delighted to have secured the services of such a highly rated, experienced and successful driver.

Franck Montagny, #15 OAK/Pescarolo LMP1: “I am delighted to be joining OAK Racing, a team that as an outsider looking in has always appealed to me due to its character and owner Jacques Nicolet’s passion for the sport. It has always been competitive and has run at the front regardless of the cars at its disposal down the years. On a personal note, I am pleased to be competing at Le Mans for the twelfth time. Hopefully we can do a good job and see the chequered flag.

“My only regret is the circumstance in which I have arrived following Guillaume’s accident. I have also suffered a serious accident in the past so can easily imagine myself in his position. As well as the physical injury, I know how frustrating and difficult it must be for him.”

Jacques Nicolet, OAK Racing Team Owner: “Ever since Sunday, this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours has taken on a different perspective. The entire team has been invested with an additional responsibility: to operate at the level of talent, courage and determination displayed by Guillaume. In order to help us rise to this new challenge we have enlisted the services of Franck Montagny who, on behalf of the team and Guillaume, I would like to thank for accepting the task. I understand how difficult it can be for a driver to integrate with a new team in such conditions, but I am also confident, having followed Franck’s career since his karting days in Brignoles, that he is the man for just such a job. The team is united in its welcome and support of him.”

Sébastien Philippe, Team Principal: “Franck has accepted the challenge of replacing Guillaume, which is not an easy decision under such circumstances. We have known each other for nearly twenty years so I am particularly delighted to welcome him into the OAK Racing fold at this difficult time. He is a very talented driver who boasts much experience and knows Le Mans very well indeed. We could not have hoped for a better driver to replace Guillaume.”

As well as the team’s WEC-registered LMP1 entry, OAK Racing will field a pair of Onroak Automotive-designed and built Morgan 2012 LMP2s.

Both have the potential to challenge for class victory after Olivier Pla, who will share the #24 Judd-powered car with Matthieu Lahaye and Jacques Nicolet, recorded the class’ fastest time during last Sunday’s Test Day while aboard the sister machine.

The team’s second #35 LMP2 prototype, powered by a Nissan engine and driven by Bas Leinders, Maxime Martin and David Heinemeier Hansson, should also pose a threat for victory, although as a non-WEC entry it will not be eligible to score double points.

Le Mans 24 Hours Schedule:

Sunday 10 June
17:40: Administrative checks and scrutineering

Wednesday 13 June
16:00 – 20:00: Free Practice
22:00 – 24:00: Qualifying 1

Thursday 14 June
19:00 – 21:00: Qualifying 2
22:00 – 24:00: Qualifying 3

Saturday 16 June
15:00: Start, 80th edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours

Sunday 17 June
15:00: Finish, 80th edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours

Shinji NakanoFrench sportscar team and manufacturer OAK Racing, which will this year enter four prototypes – two LMP1s and two LMP2s – at the Le Mans 24 Hours, can confirm the signing of Shinji Nakano and Nicolas De Crem for its second LMP2 machine.

The #49 OAK-Pescarolo is lead by Nakano whose speed and experience will be a significant asset in the team’s bid for LMP2 class victory. The 40-year-old boasts a fantastic racing CV across Formula 1 and sports prototypes that already includes four appearances at Le Mans. Nakano was also the first Japanese driver to contest world motorsport’s three biggest events; the Le Mans 24 Hours, Monaco Grand Prix and Indianapolis 500.

He is joined by 20-year-old Nicolas de Crem who in 2010 demonstrated his potential while racing in Formula Le Mans. Last weekend’s Le Mans Test Day saw the Belgian also prove his capacity to adapt to the La Sarthe circuit’s unique characteristics during the mandatory 10 lap stint required of all debutants.

François Sicard, OAK Racing Managing Director: “Entering two LMP2s strengthens our challenge for class victory. We have chosen a competitive and intelligent crew which includes a silver driver as specified by the regulations. Nicolas De Crem is a promising prospect, as well as solid and fast, whose talent we hope to develop in endurance racing. Pairing him with Shinji Nakano represents a great opportunity for himself and OAK Racing. A platinum driver, Shinji’s CV and popularity speak for themselves while his speed means we have high hopes for an excellent result.”

Shinji Nakano: “It has been three years since my last appearance at the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2008. From the bottom of my heart I am looking forward to returning to race at the beautiful and challenging La Sarthe circuit. At the same time, I am honoured and privileged to be a member of the OAK Racing team, which has an excellent history, record and great deal of experience.

“As you are already aware, my country recently suffered a devastating earthquake that led to unimaginable disasters. Many people are still living under very difficult conditions. I am therefore dedicating this race to the victims of the disaster, by doing my best at Le Mans to lift their courage and spirits in the hope of somehow aiding their swift recovery.”

Nicolas De Crem: “My objective for the 2011 season was twofold: to participate in both the Le Mans Series and Le Mans 24 hours in LMP2. Now it is done! The LMS season has started very well and that will continue, I hope, in the same direction at the Le Mans 24 Hours with OAK Racing. I would like to thank the entire team for the confidence it has placed in me. Our common objective is clear: to finish in the best possible position. All that’s left is to do just that! Trust me, my motivation is huge!”

Fellow Le Mans-based team DAMS, which this year expressed an interest in returning to endurance racing and the Le Mans 24 Hours, will offer technical and logistical support to this second LMP2 entry. The collaboration is one which came about naturally between neighbours and friends, with DAMS having already experienced the event with a manufacturer as prestigious as Cadillac.

As a reminder, OAK Racing’s #35 OAK-Pescarolo-Judd will feature the same crew as that competing in this year’s Intercontinental Le Mans Cup. Andrea Barlesi, Frédéric Da Rocha and Patrice Lafargue will defend the team’s colours at Le Mans’ 79th running on June 11/12.

Benoît TréluyerAfter a winter break that proved as discreet as it was serious, Benoît Tréluyer’s season began in earnest at Le Mans last weekend where the three new Audi R18 TDIs made their first public appearance. With the successful test complete, he now heads to Japan for 2011’s opening Super GT round.

On Sunday evening, after the official test for the forthcoming Le Mans 24 Hours, Benoît’s smile revealed his delight at returning to competitive action and the targets he has set for 2011. Following months of development work, the first public appearance of Audi’s brand new prototype was a great moment.

“We have completed a lot of mileage since the end of last season so it is a great reward to see the car at the top of the timesheets,” he said. “We have to remain cautious as we are not totally ready yet, but it is looking good. The Audi R18 TDI is totally different from the Audi R15 TDI of last year and there is a lot of expectation. New regulations, a closed car, the desire to prove that we can be more reliable than our rivals whilst at the same time being faster; with this car Audi wanted to come back with a bang!”

While Benoît remained guarded on the potential of Ingolstadt’s latest prototype, he was more open when discussing its ease of usability.

“What is certain is that we have a car which is easy to drive. It’s great in the Porsche Esses for instance which is a critical section of the circuit. You enter the corner without any apprehension, whilst normally it can be a bit hairy! As a driver, it’s a big deal to enjoy driving and that helps improve overall performance.”

Focusing on the basics was the German manufacturer’s main objective over the Easter weekend at La Sarthe. “Shakedown the three cars and test several different things, followed by a major debrief with all the team’s engineers in order to get the most out of the gathered data! We did not take it easy!”

Benoît’s preparations for the famous event continue on 6/7 May in the Ardennes region during the 1000km of Spa-Francorchamps.

Before then, another of his season’s commitments will have already begun. This weekend, in Japan, the Super GT championship kicks off at Fuji. Just as the entire country was badly affected by the terrible earthquake and subsequent tsunami in March, so Japanese motorsport is slowly finding its feet again. For all its fans and those associated with the sport, the first meeting of 2011 will have strong symbolic value and be marked by great solemnity.

“I was in Tokyo the day of the earthquake,” said Benoît in La Sarthe. “It was not what scared me, but the tsunami which I witnessed live on television and the difficulty realising it was only 100 kilometres away. Then Fukushima happened… I left shortly afterwards for Audi testing. I have not returned since, but have spoken to the team nearly every day on the phone or by email.

“I will be delighted to see everyone again even if I’m going back with some apprehension. Saying that, I have never questioned returning in light of the nuclear issues as Japan has offered me so much.”

Benoît left Le Mans on Sunday night, making a quick visit to his home, before flying off to Tokyo. On Friday he will be reunited with his Motul Autech squad, team mate Satoshi Motoyama and the Nissan GT-R with which he intends to recapture the title won in 2008. In life as on the track, it’s safe to say he’s flat out!

OAK RacingOAK Racing has successfully utilised today’s Le Mans 24 Hours test day to prepare for the endurance racing season’s most celebrated event on June 11/12.

The team’s primary objective for its pair of LMP1s (#15 and #24) was to evaluate the new aero package developed with the 24 Hours principally in mind, while the LMP2’s (#35) aim was to qualify the two rookies that help comprise its three-man crew. The majority of the programme was successfully accomplished despite some technical issues and off-track moment for the #24 car at the end of the morning’s session.

Sébastien Philippe, Team Manager: “The team completed a lot of good work today. The test had no competitive significance so the difficulty for the team and drivers was to remain focused without worrying about our rivals. We have tested many things and validated several aerodynamic solutions. For the #15 LMP1 we were able to follow the proposed programme with Matthieu Lahaye, Guillaume Moreau and Pierre Ragues. The day was a bit more difficult for the other two cars, especially for the #24 LMP1 of Richard Hein, Jacques Nicolet and Jean-François Yvon. At the end of the morning, Richard had a big off at the Ford Chicane and the damage could not be repaired in time for the afternoon. Nevertheless, work accomplished with #15 will be applied to #24. Regarding the LMP2, we encountered a suspension problem that delayed us for nearly three hours this morning. The team did an excellent job and the car was able to rejoin the track. Our main objective was to qualify the two rookies, Patrice Lafargue and Andrea Barlesi, and that has been accomplished. But towards the end of the afternoon, Frédéric Da Rocha was hit from behind with the impact breaking the diffuser on the right rear. We preferred to stop before the session ended as we did not want to take any additional risks before Spa.”

Christophe Chapelain, Technical Director: “Overall, today has been positive and allowed us to validate several aero configurations and set-ups. We completed a lot of short two lap stints without trying to set fast lap times, which allowed us to acquire a lot of information. Now we have to go through all the data in detail and fine tune the good basic set-ups for Le Mans week’s first practice session. We have a good V-max, one of our major objectives of development for this year.”

Jacques Nicolet, OAK Racing team owner: “We had a very important working plan today and managed to stick to a large part of it. The technical conclusions are more than positive but next week is going to be very busy in order to properly prepare our three cars for the second round of the ILMC in Spa.”

OAK Racing returns to competitive action in round two of Intercontinental Le Mans Cup at the famous Spa-Francorchamps circuit on May 7.

Photo by Clément Marin.