OnRoak Automotive, OAK Racing’s constructor’s department, and Ligier announced a new partnership Friday that will see the two collaborate on future designs in a wide range of prototype categories.
OAK team owner Jacques Nicolet and Guy Ligier, ex-Formula One driver and a famous constructor in his own right both in F1 and at Le Mans, met several years ago.
“I met Guy for the first time in 2006; I was the first buyer of the JS 49,” Nicolet said. “I was completely carried away by his passion for motorsport. This meeting led to the birth of a real relationship based on this passion. The Ligier make met with success in Formula One and it has scored several top-three finishes in the Le Mans 24 Hours; it has a real magic about it! It’s a symbol in the heart of the fans and I feel very proud to associate myself with this name.”
The partnership means the Ligier name will return to Le Mans for the first time since the 1970s, as Ligier entered a car from 1970 to 1975.
The Ligier and OnRoak partnership will see two different types of LMP2 cars. A new coupe, the Ligier LMP2, is targeted for the American market and will turn its first laps early in 2014, although no specifics were given on when “early in 2014” implies.
Meanwhile the current open-top Morgan LMP2 will be eligible to continue, although neither Nicolet nor OAK Racing team principal Sebastian Philippe has identified which teams will run the tried-and-true version for 2014 and beyond.
After already having expressed interest in LMP3, Ligier and OnRoak formalized that interest on Friday. They will develop an LMP3 chassis once those regulations are finalized, to be offered to customers in Europe and Asia in 2015.
Additionally, Ligier and OnRoak announced a CN3 eligible chassis, the Ligier JS 53 Evo. It will be a CN powered by a 2-liter, 255-hp Honda engine aimed primarily at the Asian market. The car’s development will fall mainly to OnRoak Automotive technical director Thierry Bouvet and his design office, run by Nicolas Clémençon.
“This association with OnRoak Automotive is very important for my company, and in particular for the opening up of the Asian market, which is where the future lies,” Ligier said. “In addition, our rapprochement will give birth to a full range of racing cars. I’ve got every confidence in Jacques Nicolet, with whom I’ve enjoyed a long friendship, to bring the Ligier name back to the summit of endurance. Thus, I’m happy to be able to pursue the development of the make by relying on the experience of his teams.”
Philippe told Sportscar365 in November that OAK’s new LMP1 car won’t debut at the FIA World Endurance Championship 2014 curtain-raiser at Silverstone. Still, the release sent out Friday confirmed that progress continues on development of the new car, which began in mid-2012.
While OnRoak Automotive and Ligier move ahead with their chassis construction plans, details on the OAK Racing team’s 2014 program will follow at a later date. The team is just fresh off winning the WEC driver and team championships in LMP2 with Bertrand Baguette, Martin Plowman and Ricardo Gonzalez.