OAK Racing’s new LMP1 car will not make its debut in next year’s FIA World Endurance Championship season-opener at Silverstone as originally planned.
The French squad confirmed to Sportscar365 last weekend that the all-new coupe, designed by its OnRoak Automotive firm, has been delayed as they await a decision on what powerplant to use for 2014.
“It’s a tough decision because it’s a huge investment for us to make a new LMP1 car,” team principal Sebastien Philippe told Sportscar365. “For many reasons, we need to have a partnership for the engine side because the investment is quite huge and we don’t want to be alone in this [program].
“Also, you have more power if you’re with a manufacturer than if you’re not. That’s why we’re taking a lot of time. But it’s better to waste a bit of time in the beginning and make a good decision than doing it just to go.”
While originally scheduled to begin on-track testing in January, team owner Jacques Nicolet said they now targeting March or April, with a possible debut in the second round of the season at Spa-Francorchamps.
Nicolet said they don’t intend to start the season with one of its existing LMP1 cars, which is grandfathered into the class for 2014, in order to score driver and team points.
The future remains unclear on OAK’s WEC LMP2 involvement as well, with no firm commitment having been made on that front, either.
A decision on whether to continue appears to hinge on the possibility of new Morgan entries on the grid next year, as OAK has vowed not to race against its customers in a full championship.
“For the moment, we don’t know,” Nicolet said about the team’s LMP2 prospects. “It depends on our customer situation. We have been very happy with the achievements made by our [customers] this year, Morand Racing and KCMG. They did a very good job, so we would like to continue like that.”
The delay of OAK’s P1 project casts further questions into the full-season outlook of the LMP1 Privateer (LMP1-L) category next year, with Rebellion Racing still the only confirmed entrants with its pair of new Rebellion R-Ones.
It’s understood some other teams, including Level 5 Motorsports, have evaluated potential LMP1 programs, but no decisions have been made.