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OAK Confirms Two-Car Ligier JS P3 Lineup

OAK Racing confirms two-car Ligier JS P3 program…

Photo: OAK Racing

Photo: OAK Racing

OAK Racing will return to prototype competition this year, with the French squad confirming a two-car Ligier JS P3 effort with a quartet of gentlemen drivers in the European Le Mans Series.

Longtime friends and co-drivers Erik Maris and Jean-Marc Merlin will team up in the No. 4 Ligier, while father-and-son Jacques and Pierre Nicolet will pilot the No. 24 car, both slated to compete in the entire six-round ELMS season.

It will mark the full-season racing return for Nicolet, the President of Onroak Automotive and OAK Racing.

“I’m very happy to share this season with my son and my friends, Erik and Jean-Marc,” Jacques Nicolet said.

“So many drivers have enjoyed driving and been completely convinced by the Ligier JS P3, that I too wanted to get a kick out of racing this car built in our Onroak Automotive workshops.

“We’re very proud of this LMP3 that’s helped a lot of people to experience what it’s like to drive a sports prototype, and I’m going to try and be up to scratch to clinch podium finishes with Pierre.”

The 2016 season won’t mark the first time Jacques and Pierre have shred a car, having competed in various VdeV series rounds in the past, including last year’s six-hour enduro at Estoril, where they were joined by ACO President Pierre Fillon as a third driver.

“I know it’s an exceptional stroke of luck for me to be able to share this passion with [my father] and I’m going to savor each session and each race,” Pierre Nicolet said.

“My aim is to enjoy myself as part of a family while still being quick and not making any mistakes.”

The OAK Racing entries are two of the 19 Ligier JS P3s entered in the LMP3 class this season.

The team has also laid out intentions of entering this year’s new Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup support race at Le Mans, which will also be eligible to full-season ELMS LMP3 machinery.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Helmut

    February 10, 2016 at 6:31 am

    I thought the LMP3 category was meant to provide cheap prototype racing for privateer teams with limited budget. With manufacturers being allowed to compete as well, what’s the point in banishing them from LMP2 category on the one hand if they are allowed in the lower category on the other?

    • Max

      February 10, 2016 at 10:56 am

      Road car manufacturers are banned from having factory teams. OnRoak/OAK, ORECA, etc are allowed to run a team if they wish.

      • Helmut

        February 10, 2016 at 11:40 am

        Yes, but I thought the future plan for LMP2 is to disallow teams which depend on manufacturers, be them large or small. At least I read something like that somewhen in conjunction with SMP Racing, which were considered a threat as they were building “their own” car.

        But the ACO officers change their opinion all the time, so maybe this idea has been abandoned or it was just a proposal, no idea.

        • Richard Reeves

          February 10, 2016 at 12:10 pm

          What, you expect clarity from the non-German Europeans? It is all about Kafka-like obfuscation. Example: Onroak, one of the four designated LMP2 constructors, is calling their car…a Ligier. The French, of course, love this intrigue more than the others, and I have a theory this goes back to the fact that for thousands of years before their current democracy they were an autocratic state. Autocrats love bureaucracy and making it as difficult and non-transparent as possible for the “common folk” to understand what in hell they’re being saddled with. In other words, it’s an anti-democratic instinct.

          So I would argue: If you want logic, transparency and clarity of purpose…don’t look to the French (FIA/ACO). Have you attempted to decipher a typical bottle of French wine lately? It’s all about them requiring us to penetrate their arrogant multi-layered old world obfuscation. I rest my case.

        • Max

          February 10, 2016 at 9:58 pm

          The official line was that they only wanted manufacturers that would sell their cars, which OAK falls under. Honestly it smacks of crony capitalism on the part of Hugues de Chaunac to sell more cars.

        • Helmut

          February 11, 2016 at 7:21 am

          “If you want logic, transparency and clarity of purpose”

          Well, their strategy is logical, the proper term is nepotism.

          E.g. they should give those “Alpines” the pink slip. It’s just ridiculous, Renault wants to promote their Alpine brand, which has been defunct for years and is now reactivated for that upcoming sportscar. Instead of building a proper LMP1 (okay, Renault-Nissan tried with the Nissan LMP1), like manufacturers are meant to do, they stick with sponsoring LMP2 teams / rebranding an Oreca equipped with a Nissan engine. Well, great. Quite likely, they have more funds than other LMP2 teams. This is alright of course in the eyes of the ACO. Now as a thought experiment, what would happen if Mercedes or Ford decided to sponsor an LMP2 team, either directly or indirectly (e.g. AMG, Lincoln)?

          In contrast, if a team tries to become a new manufacturer, like SMP Racing did, it’s considered a threat, despite regulations already including an option for BoP in case one car turns out to be too predominate – well, what should they do? They are a new manufacturer, so people would be a little sceptical to buy a car if it hasn’t shown up anywhere before. E.g. the Oreca 01 also debuted under the banner of Oreca Matmut.

  2. Michael

    February 18, 2016 at 8:55 am

    In this case, I don’t see any problem as this is clearly an effort for having a good time only. Oak will not run the risk of annoying their customers by beating them. They did that in p2 last year. For the same reason Dallara never ran a factory in f3.

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