Scott Sharp and Ed Brown got a taste of the future Saturday at Paul Ricard, as the Tequila Patron ESM duo turned their first laps at the wheel of a Ligier JS P2 during the FIA WEC Prologue pre-season test.
Sharp and Brown completed roughly ten laps each in OAK Racing’s Ligier-Nissan, in advance of the Florida-based team taking delivery of two brand-new Honda-powered cars beginning with the Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps in May.
“It was really nice of Jacques [Nicolet, Onroak/OAK team owner] and Philippe [Dumas, team principal] to make that happen,” Sharp told Sportscar365.
“I’m really impressed with the car. It certainly does things quite a bit different than [the HPD ARX-03b] cars. It’s going to take a little adjustment for all of us. But I’m very impressed and pretty excited.”
The team was present this week in France with its two HPD ARX-03b cars, which will start the FIA WEC season at Silverstone next month, before making the switch to the pair of Onroak Automotive-built LMP2 cars.
Brown was also complimentary of the Ligier after setting times in the closed-top car Saturday afternoon.
“It’s totally different from anything I’ve driven,” he said. “It’s a very positive car, which builds confidence as the laps go on. I think everyone’s going to love it.”
Despite the limited number of laps, both drivers praised the car’s cockpit visibility, as well as its handling, particularly compared their ARX-03bs, which were recently placed back into service.
“That car really turns quite well, which is a huge difference,” Sharp said. “We are typically fighting an understeer in the 03bs.
“Of course there’s a big difference in how the Nissan and Honda make their power, so the combination is quite a bit different.
Brown added: “Honestly, I love the HPD engine compared to the Nissan. So that was a good comparison too. I think that car will be very good with the HPD in it.
“It’s too bad we can’t get it for Silverstone but we’re looking forward to Spa.”