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OAK Unlikely to Return; Onroak to Focus on Customer Support

OAK Racing comes to end; Onroak to focus on customer support…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

The OAK Racing name is unlikely to return to competition, as the French organization shifts its entire focus to customer support of its Ligier prototypes.

Onroak Automotive team principal Philippe Dumas confirmed to Sportscar365 the company’s new direction, which will see key members of its championship-winning race team delegated to Onroak’s customer teams.

“We are focused on Onroak, with the new P2 and P3,” Dumas told Sportscar365. “We’re really focused to increase our relationship with our good customers with Michael Shank, Krohn and ESM.

“As you know, Pegasus will enter a Ligier for Shanghai and they’re on a good way to enter a Ligier for the ELMS next season. We have Algarve [Pro Racing Team].

“We have contacts for next season, but definitely not on the OAK Racing banner.”

The transformation has already been apparent this year, with OAK scaling back its race activities, after a busy 2014 season that included entries in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, FIA World Endurance Championship and Asian Le Mans Series.

The French squad fielded only a single Ligier JS P2 Nissan for an all-gentlemen driver lineup entry in the opening three rounds of the WEC, as well as an additional Honda-powered Ligier at Le Mans.

While OAK crew currently operate the two-car G-Drive Racing effort in the WEC, Dumas said that program is not yet confirmed for 2016.

A step towards Onroak’s new focus is already seen this weekend at Circuit of The Americas, with longtime OAK engineer Matthieu Leroy joining Tequila Patron ESM.

Dumas said they’ve strengthened their relationship with the Florida-based team to help them come to grips with the Ligier-Honda package.

“It’s definitely the goal to improve this relationship and so important for both sides to put a Tequila Patron ESM Ligier HPD on the podium before the end of the year,” he said.

And despite the allure of fielding a factory, all-pro entry for January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, Dumas reiterated the current plan will be to help support its U.S.-based customer teams instead.

“I would love to win this race, and to be honest, if we keep the same balance of performance, with the right package and professional drivers, this car can have a really good chance to win,” he admitted.

“At the moment we’re focused on giving the support to ESM, Krohn and Michael Shank. Let’s win this race with one of them.”

The Jacques Nicolet-owned team launched under the OAK Racing banner in 2009, after multiple seasons as Saulnier Racing and had enjoyed a considerable amount of success.

Among OAK’s accolades included the 2013 WEC LMP2 World Championship and a 1-2 class finish at Le Mans that year, as well as back-to-back Asian LMS titles in 2013-2014.

Onroak, constructors of the Ligier JS P2 and Morgan LMP2 prototypes, was selected as one of the four approved 2017 LMP2 constructors in July.

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

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