After three days of testing at Magny Course, OAK Racing Team Asia ran the new Ligier JS P2-HPD at Le Mans for the first time yesterday, with drivers David Cheng, Adderly Fong, and Ho-Pin Tung showing promising pace around the Circuit de Le Sarthe.
The morning started off well for the trio, but after just 15 laps the #33 Ligier had to pull off at Arnage with a clutch issue, although Tung had set the 17th fastest time of the morning on 3:52.232 before hand, with Cheng also getting his required rookies laps in to qualify for the race. Fong, therefore, had to wait until the afternoon session to get his rookie laps in, although the team did loose valuable track time with the breakage.
Talking about the clutch issue that hampered the team, Fong said: “We had a bit of difficulty with the gearbox today. On the out lap, we suffered a bit of an issue with the clutch, which meant that I couldn’t complete the out lap. But the main focus in the afternoon was to complete the ten qualifying laps I needed to do for the race. That’s out of the way, so I’m very happy now I’ve done ten laps on the legendary Le Mans circuit.”
Cheng, who completes the historic trio of all Chinese drivers for the first time at Le Mans, said: “The key point of today was to first get my mandatory ten laps – that was important. For me it was quite easy. I went out there and tried to be safe, not taking any risks to do my ten laps. I came in and handed over to Adderly, and unfortunately, we had a clutch failure, a little mechanical problem, but the OAK Racing team did a great job putting the new clutch back in, although we did lose about one full session.
“All we were trying to do by the end of the day was to get Adderly his 10 laps. Overall, we’ve learnt quite a bit from today, though we would’ve loved to do a bit more mileage with this new Ligier car, especially with this HPD Motor, as we were trying to break in the motor and the gearbox. Everything is responding quite well and we’re testing our new Michelin tyres, and how long we can run on our Total fuel. It’s been a positive day and I think the team learnt a lot from this.”
OAK Team Principle Jacques Nicolas summed up the day for the team, saying: “It’s been a set-up day for the #33. The whole team has been working hard. We were a bit behind on the car already, so it’s been a full day of work, with a gearbox problem to solve as well. All the drivers who needed to do their ten laps made them. I think that there is still some work to be done to perfect the setup of the car, but the car is going well, so everything is good for the moment.”