Prior to the start of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, few would have bet on the OAK Racing Team Asia’s Ligier JS P2 HPD recording a solid run following a challenging test day for the new Ligier-HPD-Michelin combination. (En Français)
The effort, led by team manager Remy Brouard, saw the first all-Chinese driver lineup, not only finish the race but record a respectable seventh place result in the highly competitive LMP2 class, following a flawless race by Ho-Pin Tung David Cheng and Adderly Fong, as well as the brand-new Onroak Automotive-developed prototype.
For Brouard, who holds the distinction of having been a driver, a member on the ACO’s executive committee and having helped develop Le Mans-style racing on the Asian continent, the Frenchman, who now leads OAK Racing Team Asia’s program, has been an instrumental figure in the world of endurance racing.
Endurance-Info caught up with Brouard to get his thoughts on Le Mans and look ahead to the start of the Asian Le Mans Series season.
What conclusions can you draw from OAK Racing Team Asia’s race at Le Mans?
“The balance is positive. It cannot be otherwise. The initial objective was to get to the end of the race and the mission was fulfilled. There were so many unknowns: a new car, two rookie drivers, a new engine, the adaptation to Michelin tires.
“We knew that each parameter was well mastered but we needed everything to work together. We took to this race with great humility, with the aim of having the best finish possible.”
Were there any major concerns during the race?
“We had some glitches during the test day, including a clutch issue that cost us three hours. The problem with Le Mans is that you’re not able to recover the time lost, which makes it difficult to have the optimal car.
“The race went smoothly, especially as we started our season at Le Mans. It’s a pleasure to have had the congratulations of the ACO at the end of the race. Frederic Henry-Biabaud and Mark Thomas, the promoter of the Asian series, supported us throughout the week.”
Were you pleased by the performance of the drivers?
“Only Ho-Pin had previous experience of Le Mans. It was also he who completed the most laps of the drivers in the race. The others had to discover the traffic.
“David has made good progress. Adderly only began in this discipline and quickly took to it, maybe even a little too much. He was caught out in Indianapolis and we lost some time while we were near the top-five.
“Ho-Pin, the crew’s captain, coached his teammates, who were listening. The three had been very relaxed all week. It was a real asset.”
Was there any concerns over the late adaptation to the HPD engine in the Ligier?
“HPD did things well by sending three people to take care of the car. The technical team around Gautier and Matthieu did an excellent job. Every effort was made to ensure that the car got to the end.
“This was a real opportunity for us to have a perfect technical team. The surprise is that everything worked perfectly. With three Ligiers at Le Mans and to have all three of them finish, it is a little more than luck.”
There seemed to be a lot of Chinese media at Le Mans…
“Our three partners had invited a lot of Chinese journalists to discover the event. It has had a big impact in China. Le Mans is new to them and this is the best possible publicity for the Asian Le Mans Series.
“It’s rather positive for the future. Drivers and partners were awarded the Le Mans city medal, all thanks to the Sarthe Development.”
Why will the Ligier be replaced by the Morgan in the Asian LMS?
“We will shift our focus to the Morgan Judd for the LMP2 title. It’s not expected to see the Ligier JS P2 in the Asian Le Mans Series. I think it’s still a little early for such a change.
“At present, only David (Cheng) and Ho-Pin (Tung) are confirmed. The objective is to win another title and to have the certainty of returning to Le Mans in 2015.
“For us, the season will start next month at Inje and we fully expect to shine again in China.”