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Strong Gentleman Driver Lineup For OAK Racing At Le Mans

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OAK Racing president Jacques Nicolet will lead the third team for the opening WEC races (Photo Credit: Florent Gooden/FIAWEC.com)

OAK Racing will run a third entry in the opening three rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship.

Gentlemen drivers Jacques Nicolet and Jean-Marc Merlin will pilot the #45 Morgan Nissan LMP2, with Philippe Mondolot joining the team at the Le Mans 24 Hours, running alongside the full-time #24 and #35 cars of OAK Racing.

The 2013 events will mark OAK Racing president Nicolet’s seventh season of sports-prototypes, having scored a class podium and a further three top-five results in LMP2 in 2012.

“I am very pleased to be contesting the Le Mans 24 Hours with a crew of gentlemen drivers who are passionate and effective.” said Nicolet. “I also welcome the human experience aspect this adventure will provide alongside my team-mates Jean-Marc and Philippe, whose attitudes I appreciate as much as their driving abilities. We all share the same passion and enjoying ourselves is the main objective, albeit in the spirit of competition and with a desire to score the best possible results.”

Jean-Marc Merlin entered prototype racing through historic racing, including Group C and Classic Endurance Racing before moving up to modern Porsche Cup Asia, the Dubai and Spa 24 Hour races and Formula Le Mans.

“My passion for the Le Mans 24 Hours began at the age of 14 when a friend invited me to attend the 1978 race with his father François Servanin, a true gentleman driver who contested the event twelve times.” explained Merlin. “My fascination with this race lead me to participate in every edition of the Le Mans Classic, which I won on corrected time in 2006, and over the years I’ve been able to drive some of the event’s most iconic cars.I cannot wait to fulfil my childhood dream by contributing to a genuine gentlemen driver crew at the 90th anniversary race.”

Philippe Mondolot is the least experienced of the trio, having only begun his competition career in 2004, but has three VdeV Proto Endurance Challenge titles to his name. His 2013 season got off to a successful start, winning the 6 Hours of Catalunya aboard a Norma M20 FC.

“I caught the motorsport bug in my childhood by regularly attending the Le Mans 24 Hours with my father, so this is a dream come true.” said Mondolot. “I began by racing GTs, which seemed more accessible and are beautiful cars, as you can see on the road. But after tasting a prototype it would be difficult to backtrack! LM P2 is the logical conclusion, but the difference between going fast and very fast in these machines is a big step that I hope to achieve as successfully as possible.”

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Based in Mid-Wales, James joined TCF at the start of the 2013 season, covering a range of disciplines, predominantly Motorcycle Road Racing and NASCAR. Follow him on Twitter @JCCharman
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