Franck Montagny - Anne Proffit photoEnlarge Photo
As Guillaume Moreau continues to recover and gain feeling throughout his body following a heavy crash of his OAK LMP1 prototype during pre-race testing for next weekend's 24 Hours of Le Mans, his team selected 34-year-old French endurance star Franck Montagny to cover for his injured countryman.
Montagny, known for his speed and consistency has earned four outright podium finishes at Le Mans over the past five years; he also has Formula One and IZOD IndyCar series experience on his resume.
He joins fellow former World Series champion Bertrand Baguette and Dominik Kralhamer in the No. 15 OAK/Pescarolo LMP1, after Moreau fractured his back in a high-speed accident last Sunday.
"I am delighted to be joining OAK Racing," Montagny said, "a team that as an outsider looking in has always appealed to me, due to its character and owner Jacques Nicolet's passion for the sport. It has always been competitive and has run at the front--regardless of the cars at its disposal. On a personal note," he added, "I am pleased to be competing at Le Mans for the 12th time. Hopefully we can do a good job and see the checkered flag."
OAK Racing is relieved to have secured the services of such a highly rated, experienced and successful driver at The Sarthe. "Ever since Sunday, this year's Le Mans 24 Hours has taken on a different perspective," Nicolet explained. "The entire team has been invested with an additional responsibility: to operate at the level of talent, courage and determination displayed by Guillaume. In order to help us rise to this new challenge, we have enlisted the services of Franck Montagny who, on behalf of the team and Guillaume, I would like to thank for accepting the task.
"I understand how difficult it can be for a driver to integrate with a new team in such conditions, but I am also confident--having followed Franck's career since his karting days in Brignoles--that he is the man for such a job. The team is united in its welcome and support of him," Nicolet added.
In addition to the World Endurance Championship-registered LMP1 entry, OAK Racing is fielding a pair of Onroak Automotive-designed and constructed Morgan 2012 LMP2 prototypes in the race. Both distinct entries have the potential to challenge for class victory, particularly after Olivier Pia, who shares the No. 24 Judd-powered car with Mattieu Lahaye and Nicolet, recorded the class' fastest time during last Sunday's test day. The second, No. 35 LMP2 entry is powered by a Nissan engine and driven by Bas Leinders, Maxime Martin and David Heinemeier Hansson; it is a non-WEC entry so ineligible to score points.