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Tag: Guillaume Moreau

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

OAK RacingOAK 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 www.europeanlemansseries.com.

6 Hours of Le Castellet timetable:

Saturday 31 March
09:15 – 10:45: Free Practice 1
13:00 – 14:30: Free Practice 2
15:50 – 16:10: Qualifying (LMP2/FLM)

Sunday 1 April
08:15 – 08:35: Warm-up
12:00 – 18:00: Race

Photo by DPPI/Le Meur

OAK RacingOAK Racing begins its 2012 World Endurance Championship assault in America this weekend (Saturday 17 March) at the 60th Anniversary 12 Hours of Sebring hoping to make an instant impression in both the LMP1 and LMP2 classes.

A crown jewel of the sportscar racing calendar, and one that in terms of prestige ranks second only to Le Mans itself, signals the re-launch of an FIA-ratified global endurance series after 20 years of hibernation.

And with no less than 60+ WEC/ALMS entries confirmed, this year’s race is sure to be one of the most congested in its 60-year history. The 5.95km 17-turn Sebring International Raceway in Florida is also the most physically demanding on the calendar with the former US Air Force base’s combination of high humidity and part-asphalt, part concrete surface taking its toll on car and driver alike.

OAK Racing has responded to the challenge of taking on the world’s top LMP manufacturers, teams and drivers with typical gusto by entering a brace of its all-new Onroak Automotive-designed and built prototypes for the full WEC season.

Familiar face and highly regarded Frenchman Guillaume Moreau returns to the OAK Racing fold for a fourth consecutive season to lead the #15 OAK-Pescarolo LMP1 line-up that includes 2009 Formula Renault 3.5 champion and IndyCar driver Bertrand Baguette (Belgium) and young Austrian prototype ace Dominik Kraihamer.

In a premier class expected to be headed by Audi’s all-conquering diesel contingent, OAK Racing has high hopes of spearheading the petrol-powered attack just as it did to score an overall podium finish at the 6 Hours of Silverstone last year. Since then the 2012-spec car, which features a significantly revised aero package and chassis, as well as the now mandatory shark fin and front wing cut outs, has completed over 1000 kilometres of mileage and shown great promise during winter testing.

Meanwhile, expectations for OAK Racing’s similarly all-new Morgan 2012 LMP2 have been set even higher following last weekend’s fastest time during European Le Mans Series pre-season testing at Paul Ricard in France, which validated the team’s initial confidence over the winter. Those hopes remain high despite Monday’s open test accident that will ensure the car remains sidelined until Thursday.

Aiming for class victory at Sebring is Team Owner and ‘Silver’ grade gentleman racer Jacques Nicolet who is joined at the wheel of the #24 machine by rapid French duo Matthieu Lahaye and Oliver Pla. This will be Lahaye’s fifth straight season with the squad while 2009 LMS champion Pla returns following his successful part-2011 campaign.

A second Onroak Automotive-designed and built Morgan 2012 LMP2 is also scheduled to line-up on Saturday courtesy of Conquest Endurance through their capacity as OAK Racing’s official US importer and distributor. Certainly then this weekend provides an ideal opportunity to showcase the Morgan 2012 LMP2’s credentials.

As part of its official technical partnership with Dunlop, OAK Racing is also excited to see the benefits of improved tyre performance at Sebring where the team helped develop a new range of endurance rubber during the winter.

Sebastien Philippe, Team Principal: “Our objective for the #15 OAK Pescarolo LMP1 is to find a good race set-up as we are looking for performance and consistency during long stints. Qualifying is not our priority. It is important that our drivers gain experience of the circuit. That’s especially true of Bertrand, who has never driven at Sebring, and Dominik.

“Unfortunately, following the LMP2 car’s accident, we do not have one of the necessary spare parts with us. It is being dispatched and will be here by the middle of the week. It is always frustrating to miss out on track time but the performance already demonstrated has been positive. We are fast and the crew knows the circuit well. Come this weekend I’m sure we will be fighting at the front of the pack.”

Bertrand Baguette, #15 OAK-Pescarolo LMP1: “This is the first time that I will have raced at Sebring. It is a great circuit with lots of bumps but quite difficult to learn, especially the last corner which is very fast. It must be taken perfectly and for that it’s important to have a lot of confidence in the car. Happily the initial signs are good. It’s stable despite more work needing to be done.

“The biggest difficulty we’re experiencing involves the heavy traffic, especially as there is a significant difference between the prototype and GT classes. It’s something that we are still getting used to.”

Matthieu Lahaye, #24 Morgan 2012 LMP2: “It was great to get back in the car and out on-track at Sebring. We were on the pace right away and that bodes well for what promises to be a challenging weekend. Between the heat here in Florida and the number of cars competing we’ve got our work cut out, but at least we know that the performance is already there.”

Jean-Felix Bazelin, Dunlop Motorsport Competition Director: “Mutual trust and fluid information exchange between Dunlop’s engineers and those at OAK Racing helped us to continue working effectively together as early as the end of last season. Working closely at the first Sebring test after the final round in Zhuhai, they were able to very quickly define a new range of products that improve both outright performance and consistency over long distances. As this was conducted at the same circuit as the World Championship’s opening round, we have every reason to feel optimistic about how the OAK/Dunlop package will behave at the legendary Sebring circuit. We have worked hard with OAK Racing and are excited to see the tangible results of our three-year technical partnership bear fruit.”

The week-long event begins with open testing on Monday and Tuesday ahead of Thursday and Friday’s Free Practice and Qualifying. The race itself begins at 10:30 local time on Saturday morning.

60th Anniversary Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring fueled by Fresh from Florida timetable (local time):

Monday 12: Open Test
Tuesday 13: Open Test

Thursday 15:
10:00 – 11:00: Free Practice 1
14:50 – 15:50: Free Practice 2
19:35 – 21:00: Free Practice 3

Friday 16:
09:55 – 10:55: Free Practice 4
15:20 – 16:25: Qualifying

Saturday 17:
08:00 – 08:25: Warm-Up
10:30 – 22:30: Twelve Hours of Sebring

Ways to watch and listen:

Live updates:
@OAKRacingLive
www.facebook.com/OAKRacingCommunity

North America:
Television: (Extensive highlights) ABC, 12:00 Sunday 18
Online: (Live qualifying) ESPN3, 15:15 Friday 16 / (Live race) ESPN3, 10:15 Saturday 17

Europe:
Television: (Live race) Motors TV, 15:15 (CET) Saturday 17
Radio: (Live qualifying) www.RadioLeMans.com, 20:00 Friday 16 / (Live race) www.RadioLeMans.com, 15:00 Saturday 17

Worldwide (Exl. N. America):
(Live race) www.fiawec.com
(Live race) www.alms.com

OAK RacingA mix of youth and experience will provide the backbone to OAK Racing’s World Endurance Championship (WEC) campaign in 2012 following the announcement of both LMP1 and LMP2 driver line-ups today.

The French outfit’s Judd-powered OAK-Pescarolo LMP1, which has been designed and built in-house by the team’s manufacturer division Onroak Automotive, welcomes back the familiar face of Guillaume Moreau who will compete in OAK Racing colours for a fourth consecutive season.

He’s joined by 2009 Formula Renault 3.5 Series champion and IndyCar driver Bertrand Baguette who makes the switch from single-seaters to prototypes, as well as up-and-coming 22-year-old Austrian sportscar ace Dominik Kraihamer who will build on experience gleaned from contesting last season’s Intercontinental Le Mans Cup LMP2 championship.

Mounting an assault on the LMP2 class title meanwhile are two of the sport’s fastest drivers, as well as one of it’s most experienced and trusted gentlemen racers.

Former Le Mans Series LMP2 champion Olivier Pla returns to the OAK Racing fold after a successful half-season in 2011 alongside the crew’s other rapid Frenchman and team stalwart Matthieu Lahaye. Team owner Jacques Nicolet completes a line-up that is hopeful of challenging for victories aboard their Onroak-designed and built Morgan LMP2 2012.

For the re-launch of the World Endurance Championship OAK Racing will count on the support of several key technical partners. The iconic blue and orange race livery of Gulf Oil International returns thanks to the team’s partnership with Caroil, the official and exclusive distributor of Gulf lubricants in France, Belgium and Luxembourg. Tyre manufacturers Dunlop extend their partnership and continue to entrust OAK Racing with development work for their rubber, whilst Judd will once again provide power in LMP1 and LMP2. Serge Blanco, Cari and BRm have all reaffirmed their commitments and the team is also delighted to welcome aboard insurance provider representatives SFS Group, as well as Marcassus Sport and Ecodime.

Sébastien Philippe, Team Manager: “We could not have hoped for better driver line-ups in both classes. In LMP1, Guillaume will provide the continuity around which Bertrand and Dominik can develop their prototype careers. He will help the new guys find their feet in what will be a very tough category this year. It is always difficult against the diesels but nevertheless I think we look in good shape, especially with the major aerodynamic developments and Judd engine updates.

“As for LMP2, both Olivier and Matthieu are extremely fast and very experienced. As our silver graded driver, Jacques is undoubtedly the best option that we could have had. He is reliable, consistent and fast enough to fight with the other silver drivers in this class. That means we have a great chance of fighting for victories, especially as I strongly believe in the car’s all-round performance and improved reliability. It will be fitted with the all-new 2012 aero package that has demonstrated some fantastic results in the wind tunnel.”

Jacques Nicolet, Team Owner and LMP2 driver: “Both the OAK-Pescarolo LMP1 and Morgan 2012 LMP2 look like strong, competitive packages, especially after both completed over 1000 kilometres of test mileage during the winter. We were able to greatly benefit from our official technical partnership with Dunlop last season and it is an area that we must work twice as hard on in 2012 to maximise both cars’ potential. It will be interesting to see whether there is a real desire amongst organisers to close the performance gap between car manufacturers and private outfits. That will help shape Onroak Automotive’s decision whether to commit to an LMP1 programme within the frame of new regulations due to be introduced in 2014.”

Jean-Félix Bazelin, Dunlop Motorsport Competition Director: “Dunlop places a great deal of emphasis on partnerships grounded in mutual trust, integrity and long-term investment. Our continuing technical partnership with OAK Racing allows us to go deeper into the exchange of information and data, thus building the knowledge base of both parties’ engineers. Our teams are testing in Monza as I speak, working on compounds and set-ups for the WEC season and, crucially, the Le Mans 24 Hours. This clearly demonstrates our commitment to success, a trait fully shared by OAK Racing.”

Guillaume Moreau, #15 LMP1: “I am thrilled to be part of such a strong LMP1 line-up for OAK Racing this season. I have known Bertrand since we raced together in World Series by Renault, while Dominik has shown an amazing capacity to adapt and learn, so both are a great fit for the team. I’m also pleased to say that the car has progressed well over the winter, particularly on the aero side. Overall I believe that we have an excellent package with which to fight in what should be a fiercely competitive LMP1 class.”

Bertrand Baguette, #15 LMP1: “I am delighted to be joining OAK Racing’s LMP1 squad for this year’s World Endurance Championship. Being as the cars share many similarities with single-seaters I’m sure I will be able to put my experience to good use. Moreover, I am thrilled to be contesting prestigious events like Sebring, the Le Mans 24 Hours and of course Spa, where I will be racing in front of my home fans.”

Dominik Krahaimer, #15 LMP1: “Competing in LMP1 this year represents a big step forward for me and I am delighted to be taking it with OAK Racing. As a young driver still gaining experience it is vital to have strong team-mates and work within a professional outfit, both of which I will be able to do here. This is a wonderful opportunity and one that I’m sure will teach me a great deal.”

Matthieu Lahaye, #24 LMP2: “I am proud to be entering my fifth season with OAK Racing. Having been here since the beginning I have watched the team grow over time and am sure that 2012 will see it reach full maturity. It is also great to know that I will be paired with Olivier this season. After several years talking about racing together we will finally get the opportunity!”

Olivier Pla, #24 LMP2: “It is fantastic to be continuing the journey that I began with OAK Racing last August. I now know the team and how it works, so we can hit the ground running at the opening race. This year LMP2 represents a great challenge and the objective for the team is clear: go out and win the World Endurance Championship!”

OAK Racing begin their 2012 campaign with the World Endurance Championship’s season-opening round at Sebring on March 17th.