Franck Montagny will return to the Le Mans 24 Hours as cover for the injured Guillaume Moreau having been called up at short notice by OAK Racing.
Surprisingly without a drive at this year's race, the 34-year old French sportscar ace has racked up four outright podium finishes at Le Mans over the past five years, as well as boasting F1 and IndyCar experience, and will join 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 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.
“Ever since Sunday, this year's Le Mans 24 Hours has taken on a different perspective," team owner Jacques Nicolet admitted, "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.”
For Montagny, while accepting that his chance to return to La Sarthe has come in less than happy circumstances, is delighted to have secured a ride with OAK.
“OAK Racing [is] a team that, as an outsider looking in, has always appealed to me due to its character and Jacques Nicolet's passion for the sport," he noted, "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.”
Moreau continues to recover in hospital following his accident, and recently reported that he had developed feeling in his legs, following surgery to remove pressure on his spinal cord caused by a compressed twelfth vertebrae.