The French OAK Racing squad continued their astonishing run of Le Mans 24 Hours podiums, their no.35 Pescarolo-Judd finishing second in the LMP2 class, and an impressive seventh overall.
The car, driven by Matthieu Lahaye, Guillaume Moreau and Jan Charouz ran quickly and consistently throughout the race – affected by none of the issues that saw almost exactly half the 55 car field retire over the course of the twice-around-the-clock ordeal.
The car steadily moved up both the class and overall order, passing the Quifel ASM Team Ginetta in the darkness to take third in class, before taking advantage of engine problems for Highcroft Racing to take second place in class – the position the American team had held for the entire race – on Sunday morning.
“It's fantastic for the team which has scored podiums here every year since 2008,” said Lahaye 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.”
“I rejoined OAK Racing this year and have completed two Le Mans Series races, scoring two podiums,” added fellow Frenchman Moreau. “Now, in my third, we finished on the Le Mans podium. We started the race with our confidence high whilst remaining cautious and realistic. Jan, who was quick and reliable, helped us put the HPDs under pressure. I'm delighted to finish second and sure it's a good sign for the rest of the season.”
The sister car – no.24 – suffered a slightly more troubled race, hitting a stationary LMGT1 at the final corner in darkness. The impact ripped off much of the car's left-front corner.
“It was going well until I ran out of luck at 3am when two Audis overtook me,” related Richard Hein, who was driving the car at the time. “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.”
Despite massive damage Hien managed to bring the car back to the pits, where the team completed an incredible repair job, helping the car, also driven by Jacques Nicolet and Jean-Francois Yvon, to fourth in class.
“To have two LMP2s in the top ten is an exceptional result,” said Nicolet, who is also the team's co-owner. “2010 has been great so far and it's not finished yet. I'm thinking of Le Mans 2011 with even more enthusiasm now. I'm also proud to represent Pescarolo and hope that Henri's fans are happy with the result.”
“A third consecutive podium for the team is incredible, especially as it's so difficult to even finish at Le Mans,” added Francois Sittard, the team manager. “I'm also proud of the job done by the team and drivers because we got both entries inside the top ten overall. The car was very quick and reliable but we knew from the outset that it would be impossible to fight against the HPDs because of their straight-line speed, so we decided to focus on our own race. I asked the drivers to look after the car and thanks to the Pescarolo and Judd's reliability, combined with our Dunlop tyres' durability and consistency, we managed a great result.”