OAK Racing will continue the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) after securing their first LMP2 class podium of the season with a third place for Olivier Pla, Jacques Nicolet and Matthieu Lahaye at the Six Hours of Sao Paulo.
The race was not straight forward to the team, fielding a pair of Morgan badged Pescarolo chassis in the Interlagos race, Lahaye starting a roller coaster day by spinning twice in the opening stint. The first came at the start of a melee at turn four on the opening lap, the OAK driver and Pecom Racing’s Pierre Kaffer rotating in tandem at the left-hander with cars colliding behind them.
Lahaye’s second incident came when John Martin tipped him into a slide at turn one, the Australian trying to lap the #24 car after its earlier delay.
In their absence from the lead battle it was new addition Alex Brundle held the lead in the sister #35 car, defending from Ryan Dalziel of championship leaders Starworks Motorsport. Brundle kept his rival at bay for several laps around the twisting middle sector of the track before a defensive entry to the final corner allowed Dalziel to steal the optimum line away on the run up the hill to the start finish line.
“I got in after Bertrand had finished an excellent double stint and passed Enzo Potolicchio for the lead early on,” said Brundle. “But we were very unfortunate with the safety car’s timing which not only allowed the Starworks HPD to make up ground but also meant I had to defend using much older tyres. I really enjoyed it though and we were running a strong second when the problem struck. This weekend was my first time in the Morgan 2012 LMP2 and I really enjoyed the experience, especially at a circuit like Interlagos.”
Following Brundle’s stint the car remained in second place, Dominik Kraihamer climbing in for his first stint in the car to complete the driver rotation after Bertrand Baguette had started. However, a fuel pump problem left the car stranded out on track, leaving the way clear for the recovering #24 to take second place.
Their second place, unfortunately for the team, would be commuted to third by a late two minute penalty that dropped them back to third place.
“Considering everything that happened at the start third position was a very good result,” said Pla, who took the flag for the team. “Matthieu had nowhere to go but recovered well and showed great pace on old tyres. When I took over from him the fresh rubber helped us make up further ground. Ultimately it was disappointing not to finish second but when you consider our start this was a good recovery.”
“I am so disappointed to have lost second place for the team because of the two penalties I incurred after speeding in the pit-lane,” commented Nicolet. “It makes me angry because everyone, in the garage and on track, did a super job and deserved a better result. We would never have predicted finishing second after the difficulties at the start but we all drove very well. So my mistakes upset the driver in me as much as the team owner. It’s a bitter pill to swallow. The only positive to take is that a friendly team benefitted from our problems.”