The Ligier name will return to Le Mans in 2014, having reached an agreement OAK Racing‘s constructor’s department, Onroak Automotive.
The deal signifies Onroak Automotive’s new dimension as its own company devoted to the construction of racing machines, and felt it was important to secure an association with a well known brand. It will also be the first time the Ligier name has returned to Le Mans since 1975.
Jacques Nicolet, the President of Onroak Automotive and OAK Racing met with Guy Ligier a few years ago, where the two got on very well, which helped when Nicolet came with a proposition to take on Le Mans. The association between the two represents a pooling of their passion, resources and technical knowledge.
“I met Guy for the first time in 2006; I was the first buyer of the JS 49,” said Nicolet. “I was completely carried away by his passion for motor sport. This meeting led to the birth of a real relationship based on this passion. The Ligier make met with success in Formula 1 and it has scored several top-three finishes in the Le Mans 24 Hours; it has a real magic about it! It’s a symbol in the heart of the fans and I feel very proud to associate myself with this name.”
The ambition of Onroak is to develop a pyramid of sports prototypes, ranging from the CN class all the way up to LMP1.
The CN category will see Onroak and Ligier offering a 2-litre 255bhp Honda-powered car, aimed mainly at the VdeV Series and the Asian market. The development of the Ligier JS 53 Evo dovetails perfectly with the ACO’s recent announcement of a CN category with a carbon monocoque and crash box before the arrival of the new LMP3 category in 2015. OAK Racing entered a Ligier JS 53 Evo in the final two rounds of the 2013 VdeV Series, with development of the car left to Onroak’s technical director, Thierry Bouvet. A chassis for the LMP3 category will be available after the official regulations have been published.
Onroak will offer two models for the LMP2 category in 2014, starting with the open Morgan chassis, which OAK Racing took to victory in 2013. Also on offer will be the new closed cockpit Ligier LMP2, mainly aimed at the American market. Testing for the new coupe will begin in early 2014.
Finally, Onroak will continue its development for an LMP1 entry, which it began back in 2012.
“This association with Onroak Automotive is very important for my company, and in particular for the opening up of the Asian market, which is where the future lies,” said Ligier. “In addition, our rapprochement will give birth to a full range of racing cars. I’ve got every confidence in Jacques Nicolet, with whom I’ve enjoyed a long friendship, to bring the Ligier name back to the summit of endurance. Thus, I’m happy to be able to pursue the development of the make by relying on the experience of his teams.”