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24 Jun 09 17:53
A Podium Finish for Team Mazda France at Le Mans
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OAK Racing Team Mazda France scored an LMP2 podium finish at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. Jacques Nicolet, Richard Hein and Jean-François Yvon piloted their #24 Pescarolo-Mazda to third in class with the three gentlemen-racers driving a solid, intelligent, error-free race. The result is a huge reward for the team, who had worked non-stop since the beginning of the year.

“I am very pleased for all of the team,” said Team Manager François Sicard after stepping off the podium. “We’ve had a very busy winter as our partnerships with Mazda and Dunlop were confirmed quite late. We had to adapt the chassis to the Mazda engine and then to the new Pescarolo aero package, all of which represented a significant programme. To be on the podium at Le Mans, following our top three finish in the Spa 1000 km race in May, is exceptional and shows the quality of OAK Racing, its staff and partners.

“Pre-race we may have thought that the younger crew in the #35 car were more likely to reach the podium, but unfortunately they had several technical issues during the race and were forced to retire at 8:30 this morning. Nevertheless, it is absolutely fantastic that our trio of gentlemen drivers have sampled the podium. They made no mistakes during the race and followed the strategy they were given perfectly. This year’s race is the third participation at Le Mans by the team, so to finish on the podium twice in a row just confirms how professional we are. The result is very promising for the rest of the season.”

Car #24

Jacques Nicolet: “This is a childhood dream come true. I am extremely proud for the whole team and it is a just reward for the huge amount of work that we have undertaken alongside Pescarolo Sport, Mazda and Dunlop this winter. We are a privateer team and the 2009 programme has handed a lot of responsibility to our drivers and partners. I am delighted our team was able to put a Pescarolo, with a Mazda engine, Dunlop tyres and three very passionate drivers on the podium.”
Thierry Guillemot, General Manager of Mazda France: “To finish on the podium at the 24 Hours of Le Mans is a massive achievement for Mazda France and Mazda USA. OAK Racing prepared for this event with great maturity and their race management was very intelligent, so a big thank you to the entire team. I would like to dedicate this result to the memory of Neil Warrior, Director of Public Relations for Mazda Europe, who was amongst the passengers lost onboard the AF447 flight from Rio de Janeiro.”

John Doonan, Competitions Manager of Mazda North America: “We have just lived a very special moment full of emotion for Mazda. We are not a massive car manufacturer and our resources are limited, so to score a podium with our partners Mazda France and OAK Racing in our first Le Mans together is simply exceptional. Robert Davis and all the management of Mazda North America are keen supporters of our race programme and to score such a result at Le Mans means a lot for the group.”

LMP2 Final Classification:
1) #31 Team Essex – Elgaard, Collard, Poulsen – Porsche RS Spyder – 357 laps
2) #33 Speedy Racing – Kane, Leuenberger, Pompidou – Lola Judd – 343 laps
3) #24 OAK Racing – Nicolet, Hein, Yvon – Pescarolo Mazda – 325 laps
4) #32 Team Barazi Epsilon – Barazi, Moseley, Bennett – Zytek 07S – 306 laps
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