OAK Racing is poised to expand to a two-car operation for the final two TUDOR United SportsCar Championship rounds, which includes the North American debut of the Ligier JS P2.
The French squad, which currently campaigns a Nissan-powered Morgan for Gustavo Yacaman, Olivier Pla and Alex Brundle, has outlined plans for its HPD-powered Ligier to debut at the Circuit of the Americas round in September, followed by an appearance at the Petit Le Mans in October.
“The plan is to send the car to Austin for the TUDOR Championship race,” team principal Philippe Dumas told Sportscar365. “The first plan was Road America but I think it’s better to keep the car in Europe to work on it.
“At the moment, we are really happy about the reliability. Now we need to work on the performance side. The car is a little bit too heavy. Definitely, we will work on it this summer.”
While having racked up more than 5,000 miles of private testing with with its Nissan-powered development car, the Onroak Automotive-designed prototype has yet to get any significant running time with the 2.8-liter Honda twin-turbo V6.
Three Ligiers will make their debuts in today’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, including the Honda-powered No. 33 OAK Racing Team Asia, which is the car that’s been earmarked for late-season TUDOR Championship competition.
“We are and we will be competitive with the Nissan engine,” Dumas said. “It’s 100 percent sure. At the moment, we don’t have a lot of information, feedback and data with the HPD engine. But I’m confident we’ll have this car in Austin.”
Despite previous reports, Dumas said they have yet to reach a deal with 8Star Motorsports to purchase a Ligier but said they maintain a great relationship with the Florida-based squad, which provides logistics support to OAK’s North American operation.
Dumas said Ho-Pin Tung, who is set to make his TUDOR Championship debut later this month at the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, could be part of the lineup in the Ligier-HPD at Petit Le Mans, alongside Yacaman and Pla.
The team’s Morgan-Nissan, meanwhile, could see Nissan GT Academy drivers Jann Mardenborough, Mark Shulzhitskiy plus Alex Brundle at the wheel for the 1,000-mile/10-hour race, according to the OAK team principal.
Interest in the new closed-top prototype has been solid, with a number of North American teams, including Krohn Racing, evaluating potential 2015 programs with the French LMP2 car.
“We have many interests at the moment and I hope we’ll have more after Le Mans,” Dumas added. “We have good interests from U.S. teams but also European and Asian teams. With the Pro P2 class [format emerging] in WEC, we have a lot of interest not only from endurance teams but also GP2 teams.”
Dumas said they have the capability of building up to ten Ligiers by the end of the year.