OAK Racing Team Mazda France continued its incredible run of form at the Le Mans 24 Hours in recent years with a third consecutive podium finish in the LMP2 class.
The #35 Pescarolo-Judd driven by Matthieu Lahaye, Guillaume Moreau and Jan Charouz produced a solid performance to run quickly and consistently throughout the event on their way to second position in LMP2 and seventh overall.
Moreau was quickly into his stride after Saturday's start and had moved up to fourth by the end of his stint. There the car stayed as both Lahaye and Charouz completed stints of their own until passing Quifel ASM's Zytek in the darkness.
When the pre-race class favourite Highcroft HPD machine hit trouble, the crew were primed to pounce, taking a second position they would maintain to the flag behind Strakka Racing.
“It's fantastic for the team which has scored podiums here every year since 2008,” Lahaye said. “OAK Racing has become the team of choice for drivers wanting to finish on the Le Mans podium! We had no reliability issues with either car and both finished in the overall top ten.
“In the Le Mans Series one car is second and the other fourth in the championship which proves there's a great team effort and spirit. I'm delighted to have been a part of that since the beginning and hopefully it will continue.”
Meanwhile, the team's #24 entry of Jacques Nicolet, Richard Hein and Jean-Francois Yvon came home fourth in class, one place shy of their own podium finish from 2009.
While the #35 car enjoyed a relatively straight-forward race, the same couldn't be said of the #24. Running seventh just after midnight, Hein was squeezed by two faster LMP1 cars and forced into an accident with the then GT1 leading Matech Ford GT.
Both machines suffered significant damage with the Pescarolo losing much of its front left side but it returned to action just half an hour later before climbing back up the order.
“It's fantastic for the kids in #35!” Hein said. “They deserve it and I'm very proud of them. This proves that when you mix youth with experience it works well!
“It was going well until I ran out of luck at 3am when two Audis overtook me. There was a Ford GT stationary on the racing line with no lights on and no yellow flags out so the first I knew of it was when the cars in front darted left and right. It was a big impact – maybe 192km/h – but the team did a great job.”