After its triumphant 2013 season OAK Racing has kicked off 2014 in the same vein and has begun the New Year in its usual hard-working, efficient fashion. Part of the french team crossed the Atlantic with a prototype Morgan-Nissan entered for the famous Rolex 24 at Daytona, the opening round of the new-for-2014 American Series, the United Sportscar Championship (USSC). The Sarthebased squad took part in the 3-day test session organised by IMSA to optimise preparation for this new challenge. Their efforts were rewarded with the second fastest-time in the final session.
New Year, new ambitions! OAK Racing, victorious in LM P2 category in the 2013 Le Mans 24 Hours, in
the World Endurance Championship and in the Asian Le Mans Series with its Morgan LM P2s produced by Onroak Automotive, is determined to win with its prototypes in the USA. Thus, the Frenchsquad has entered a Morgan-Nissan LM P2 for the USCC, the new American Championship resulting from the merger between Grand-Am and the American Le Mans Series. The regulations make provision for a classification adapted to this new format with four categories. The main one called ‘Prototypes’ includes the DPs (ex-Grand-Am Daytona Prototypes) and the LM P2s.
After three days’ intensive work the team came away from the American circuit with very positive results. The no. 42 Morgan-Nissan was always in the top 10 on the pace of the quickest LM P2s and was locked in battle with the DPs. Thanks to all the hard work carried out by the team over the three days it set the second-fastest time in the final session, the quickest in LM P2, in 1m40.767sec just behind the Corvette DP entered by the Spirit of Daytona team, which lapped the 3.56 mile (5,73 km) circuit in 1m 40.320sec – very encouraging results overall!
While OAK Racing knows the Morgan-Nissan LM P2 from the Onroak Automotive workshops with which it won the 2013 FIA Endurance Trophy better than anybody else, the team has a lot of work to do to adapt to the circuits it’s going to discover this year, in particular banked tracks like Daytona. Under the direction of new team principal, Philippe Dumas, OAK Racing worked on the development of the setups, getting the best out of the Continental tyres that are new to the team and the discovery of the track. It took advantage of the eight test session, including a nighttime one, to carry out long working stints.
Three drivers relayed one another in the no. 42 Morgan-Nissan. In-house driver Olivier Pla is continuing his collaboration with the team that began in 2011. Thanks to his in-depth knowledge of the car the man from Toulouse was the quickest of the trio, but above all he gave his team-mates precious advice. Russian Roman Rusinov, who gathered a lot of experience in his two seasons in an LM P2, and Colombian Gustavo Yacaman, third in the 2012 Daytona 24 H, joined OAK Racing to take part in these tests and give the squad the benefit of their experience. A really good sense of team spirit quickly grew up between the trio, and the French outfit.
Four team members stayed on in Florida to prepare the car for its first race on American soil. While the names of the drivers who will back up Pla still have to be confirmed, OAK Racing is continuing the work it’s begun and is investing an immense amount of effort to make this American dream come true. The French outfit will be aiming for a top-3 finish if not the topmost step of the podium!
Philippe Dumas, team principal: “The tests went off very well for the team. We did a lot of good work on the car’s setup in race conditions. We’re going to optimise our preparation for this event. The three drivers all did a great job: the two newcomers were given a lot of help by their team-mate, Olivier Pla. The whole team had a very good feeling. Roman Rusinov and Gustavo Yacaman showed very quickly their ability to adapt to driving the car and to working with the team.”
(OAK Racing, photo: DPPI)