Onroak Automotive will be well represented on the grid of next weekend’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, with a total of seven cars in LMP2, including three new Ligier JS P2s, which make their race debuts. (En Français)
The all-new LMP2 coupe, which broke cover in February, turned its first laps of Le Mans last week during the official test day in the hands of OAK Racing, Thiriet by TDS Racing and OAK Racing Team Asia, with plans now being formulated for the rest of the season.
Endurance-Info caught up with OAK Racing team principal Philippe Dumas to get his thoughts on the Ligier’s upcoming race debut, the status of its program in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, as well as any future LMP1 hopes for the Le Mans-based constructor and race team.
Jacques Nicolet and yourself were at the launch of the Nissan LMP1 program. Should we read into that for the future?
“Already, it’s a source of pride to have been invited to this presentation, which was for journalists. If the question is whether Onroak Automotive is involved with the [LMP1] program, the answer is no. The fact that journalists are asking is flattering for us.
“We were invited because of the partnership with Nissan for the 24 Hours of Le Mans with two drivers from the GT Academy. This is a great project with Ligier and we hope this will lead to other things with Nissan in the future.”
Is an Onroak Automotive/OAK Racing LMP1-L still possible?
“The idea is not been abandoned. I think we should know what will happen in this category, LMP1-L, after Le Mans. It’s time to shake things up. Jacques Nicolet is a major player in endurance.
“He needs to have certainty on the part of the ACO and FIA before embarking on such a program. We hope there will be discussions in late June. It’s not too late for 2015 but time is short.”
Onroak Automotive is now well established as a constructor. Is this the final year for OAK Racing as a team?
“Why not put our racing team available to partners? It’s still possible to run in some exciting races.”
How has the season gone in the U.S.? Do you feel there’s equality between DP and P2?
“It’s better even though it’s not there yet. This championship is close to our heart. We are well aware that it’s a complicated issue for IMSA.
“Until now, the best race for the BoP was Laguna Seca because there were no long straights. However, I have some fears about Watkins Glen. Discussions are underway to find solutions.
“The HPD engine can collect a little more power, which is not the case for the Nissan. If the organizers want a show, they need to find the right solution. The American races are always exciting.”
Has there been a high level of interest in the Ligier JS P2 in the U.S.?
“Yes and we’ve proven that it’s competitive and reliable. There is a real interest. If everything goes as planned, there will be a Ligier in the U.S. by the end of the season.
“There will already be a Ligier JS P2 in Austin for the FIA WEC. The chances of G-Drive Racing’s Morgan being replaced with a Ligier after Le Mans in 90 percent.”
Is it a bit of a risk to debut the Ligier at Le Mans?
“You cannot deny that but this is the time to do so. In an ideal world, this was not the perfect thing to do but it was too complicated [to debut] it earlier. It’s true that a debut in the ELMS would have been more relaxed. Le Mans has the full media impact.
“However, we assume the full commitment of these three cars. The challenge is important but we are confident. We will fight for the win.”
Has it been a bit more challenging for the HPD-powered Ligier?
“The project was launched much later. For the Ligier JS P2 HPD, the philosophy is rather to have a reliable race. It has made good progress in terms of performance.”
Is there a concern for spare parts?
“It’s challenging but we’ll manage. I want to thank our drivers and customers who brought the cars back safely on Sunday. It was vital for the future. Each car will have enough spare parts. We must also thank HP Composites.
“If a team wants a Ligier, they’ll have to wait until early September to take delivery of one.”