The customer No. 22 OAK-Pescarolo made podium at Petit Le Mans - Anne Proffit photoEnlarge Photo
Endurance racing stalwarts OAK Racing of Le Mans, France are teaming with American team owner, Belgian Eric Bachelart, who has run Conquest Racing since the 1990s to make available an LM P2 prototype sportscar for privateers in the United States.
Through the ongoing work of its constructor department, Onroak Automotive, a new OAK-Pescarolo LM P2 has rolled off the construction line, developed to cater to private teams and targeted for the international market. It is now available for purchase in the United States through Conquest Endurance, the sole US importer and distributor of this particular prototype.
Onroak Automotive is a new enterprise for OAK Racing, merging its design office, its manufacturing department and sales division into a single group. Onroak is located at the Technoparc des 24 Heures, just a hop and jump from the legendary Le Mans circuit
The new prototype was designed to meet all the 2012 ACO/FIA regulations with particular emphasis placed on cost controls and safety. The mandatory shark fin has been added above the engine cowling and louvers are present over the wheel arches, as mandated by ACO/FIA. Onroak also placed strong emphasis on aerodynamic performance in order to increase downforce and reduce drag on the open prototype. There has been an extensive wind tunnel program.
OAK Racing has extensive experience in prototype development through its design office; the racing team has fielded cars in various endurance series and events through the 2011 season, including both LM P1 and LM P2, making the transition to construction that much more feasible.
Over the course of the past season, the 2011-spec LM P2 covered more than 25,000 kilometers, allowing the team to amass vast quantities of data. The LM P2 entry finished every race it entered; in the first race at Sebring last March, it achieved a podium result and, in the ILMC classification it was the season runner-up, taking second place at the Petit Le Mans race (thanks to the United Autosports-entered No. 22 machine). In 2010 OAK's race team secured seven podiums from eight races, including an LM P2-class runner-up result at Le Mans and the Le Mans Series constructors title.
The 2012 car has been designed with private teams in mind; it suits both professional and gentleman drivers, the manufacturer contends. Onroak Automotove will oversee all technical support and assistance required at the circuit. Any current engine will fit the 2012-spec race car with fitments available for Judd, Nissan, HPD-Honda and the upcoming Ford engines. Tests with the Nissan unit are planned for January; an OAK-Pescarolo with Judd power has been tested at Sebring (in early December). Several teams have already had the chance to test the new-spec car's performance.
Among those teams testing the OAK-Pescarolo in the USA was Conquest Endurance, an off-shoot of Bachelart's Conquest Racing, a regular entrant on the IZOD IndyCar Series trail. Conquest intends to enter one of the LM P2 OAK-Pescarolo prototypes in the American Le Mans Series during the 2012, thereby showcasing the Onroak product. Conquest Endurance stated it intends to vie for the LM P2 title in a rookie season - but has not yet named the motive power of choice for this effort. Conquest Racing continues to field a single car in Indy car racing.
While Bachelart realizes his two squads, Conquest Racing and Conquest Endurance will have "a busy off-season, we are excited about the challenge. The OAK-Pescarolo has proven to be a success in Europe and now we look forward to showcasing its speed and reliability here in the United States. We are confident this will be the chassis to have in ALMS for 2012 and beyond."
OAK Racing team owner Jacques Nicolet, who has brought the team to the USA for several years noted, "Endurance racing is experiencing a lot of growth in the United States and the LM P2 category is poised to conquer a new place in the North American market. The OAK-Pescarolo car has shown its potential for several seasons in Europe and will now continue to do so in the U.S. The new 2012 version will be highly competitive and will suit private teams."
American race fans will get their first look at Conquest Endurance's OAK-Pescarolo during the ALMS annual winter test, scheduled for February 8-9 at Sebring International Raceway, site of the 60th annual Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring just a month later.
© 2011 Anne Proffit