OAK Racing was able to secure a podium finish in the LMP2 class at Le Mans for a second successive season, after Jacques Nicolet, Richard Hein and Jean-Francois Yvon carried the #24 Pescarolo Mazda to third in the class.
The gentleman driver line-up enjoyed a largely trouble-free run during the race to bring the car to the finish on the team's La Sarthe debut under Mazda power, with team manager Francois Sicard hopeful that the form can be carried into the remainder of the Le Mans Series season.
"I am very pleased for all of the team," he said. "We've had a very busy winter as our partnerships with Mazda and Dunlop were confirmed quite late. We had to adapt the chassis to the Mazda engine and then to the new Pescarolo aero package, all of which represented a significant programme.
"To be on the podium at Le Mans, following our top three finish in the Spa 1000kms in May, is exceptional and shows the quality of OAK Racing, its staff and partners. Pre-race we may have thought that the younger crew in the #35 car were more likely to reach the podium, but unfortunately they had several technical issues during the race and were forced to retire at 8.30am.
"Nevertheless it is absolutely fantastic that our trio of gentlemen drivers have sampled the podium as they made no mistakes during the race and followed the strategy they were given perfectly. This year's race is the third participation at Le Mans by the team, so to finish on the podium twice in a row just confirms how professional we are. The result is very promising for the rest of the season..."
Matthiey Lahaye, Karim Ajlani and Guillaume Moreau had been expected to lead the OAK challenge, but engine issues eventually lead to the car's retirement in the 18th hour.
"The race started well for us," Lahaye said. "We were competitive and the chassis was exceptional in all the fast corners. Unfortunately, in the early hours of the morning we started to have some concerns with the engine. We had the potential to make the podium again, and that makes me confident for the rest of the season, and I am also delighted for my team-mates in the #24 car."