|Oak Racing No. 34|
In parallel to the entry of the no. 35 Ligier JS P2 OAK Racing is doubling its presence in the 2015 Le Mans 24 Hours. A second Onroak Automotive chassis will be entrusted to Chris Cumming, Kevin Estre and Laurens Vanthoor, a very quick, competitive driver line-up.
It will be the three drivers’ debut in the Le Mans 24 Hours and in the LM P2 category. It’s a double challenge which is right up the street of the three talented new recruits of OAK Racing, which scored a double in LM P2 in the 2013 Sarthe event.
The no. 34 Ligier JS P2 will be powered by a Honda engine and shod with Dunlop tires.
Philippe Dumas, Team Principal: “We’re delighted to welcome Chris, Kevin and Laurens in this Ligier JS P2-Honda and to share with them their first outing in the Le Mans 24 Hours. It’s a daring challenge to enter three drivers who are making their debut in both the race and the category, but they’re all very talented and we’ve brought together two of the best of the current crop of GT drivers. I’m delighted to be continuing the OAK Racing tradition of initiating ambitious, promising projects. We’ll start testing in mid-May and I’m confident that they’ll adapt quickly to the Ligier JS P2, which Chris already tested last year during a session in New Orleans."
Chris Cumming will be crossing the Atlantic to come and race in the Le Mans 24 Hours. Up to now the 44-year-old Canadian driver’s whole career has been on the American continent. He’s got solid endurance experience having raced in the 2012 and 2013 American Le Mans Series followed by the Tudor United SportsCar Championship: above all he has had five outings in the Daytona 24 hours since 2011. While it will be Chris’s first race in an LM P2 he has been competing in the ‘Prototype Challenge’ class over the last two years, and he tested the Ligier JS P2 last year.
He said: “I am extremely happy to be joining a great team such as OAK Racing for my first Le Mans 24 Hours. I believe the combination of Kevin, Laurens, and myself in a Ligier JS P2 – Honda can be a winning car. I am excited to get started with testing."
Twenty-six-year-old Frenchman Kevin Estre is a professional racing driver. After making an impressive debut in single-seaters he became the benchmark in the Porsche Carrera Cup races where he moved up through the ranks between 2008 and 2013 starting with a Best Rookie title: he followed this up with titles in the French and German Championships plus second place in the Supercup. Since 2012, Kevin has competed in major GT endurance races including the Dubai, Spa, Daytona and NÃ¼rburgring 24-Hour events. In 2012 he met Chris Cumming with whom he did his first Daytona 24 Hours and Sebring 12 Hours. This year he’ll be driving with the Canadian again in his first Le Mans 24 Hours!
He said: “I'm really happy and proud to be part of the OAK Racing Team for the Le Mans 24 Hours! It's the best race in the world and having the opportunity to do it with such a great team and the Ligier JS P2-Honda is fantastic. Knowing from experience that Chris is one of the best gentleman drivers and Laurens is in the top 10 GT drivers in the world, I think that we have a strong line-up. I usually fight against Laurens on track as we are both factory drivers from competing makes in GT so it will be fun to have a break and be together for a race."
Twenty-four-year-old Belgian driver Laurens Vanthoor racked up an impressive set of results in Formula 3 between 2008 and 2011, and then continued in the same vein in the GT category. He is a professional driver who won numerous races with Audi between 2012 and 2014 as well as honing his skills in endurance marked by victories in the Zolder and Spa 24 Hours.
He knows Kevin Estre well as he has raced against him on several occasions in GT, and he’s delighted to be meeting up with Chris Cumming who he knows by reputation. Vanthoor is convinced that the trio can do a great job together.
He said: "Obviously it's a dream coming true to race in Le Mans. I filled one dream 3 years ago by becoming a professional race driver for Audi. After that my next goal was to compete and win in Le Mans, this is a first step towards that dream. Being able to do it with OAK Racing, in a Ligier JS P2-Honda-Dunlop, with a very quick GT fellow-driver Kevin Estre and of course Chris Cumming is the best package I could imagine. Obviously we don't have the experience as drivers but we will work our way through it."