Kevin Estre on course for Le Mans!

Newsletter Kevin Estre #1-2015 / 9 March 2015
Kevin Estre to take part in the Le Mans 24 Hours with OAK Racing’s #34 Ligier JS P2 Honda Dunlop, 13-14 June 2015

For the past few years Kevin Estre has been looking for an opportunity to take part in the Le Mans 24 Hours. This coming June the French driver will be at the start of the 83rd event at the wheel of a prototype Ligier JS P2 Honda entered by OAK Racing, shod by Dunlop with Laurens Vanthoor and Chris Cumming as team-mates.

Aged 26, McLaren GT works driver Kevin Estre has accumulated a great deal of experience in endurance. He has taken part in the Daytona, Spa, Dubai, and Nürburgring 24-Hour races: in the latter he set pole as well as the fastest lap. He has also put on stunning performances in the Sebring, Bathurst and Abu Dhabi 12-Hour events, and the Petit Le Mans. It was high time for him to add the most legendary of all the long-distance races, the Le Mans 24 Hours, to his tally!

In addition, the driver from Lyon is getting to know the big Le Mans circuit, on which he has always been competitive, really well. In 2010, he finished second in a round of the Porsche Carrera Cup which was a curtain-raiser for the Le Mans 24 Hours (he was first of the drivers who started on wet weather tyres). Two years later, he did an 11-lap rookie test in a Porsche 911 GT3 RSR entered by the IMSA Performance Matmut team during the test day for the Le Mans 24 Hours. Last year, he set pole and dominated the Le Mans Porsche Cup until a puncture on the last lap forced him to retire.

Thus, Kevin and the Le Mans 24 Hours were meant to meet, but for this to happen he had to (re) cross the path of Philippe Dumas. The two men had already met up at the end of 2013 when the current OAK Racing team principal was managing Hexis Racing. Kevin already enjoyed a growing reputation thanks to his successes in the various Porsche Cups and in the Supercup. However, he really exploded on the international grand touring car scene thanks to his performance in the streets of Baku at the wheel of the French team’s McLaren. McLaren GT immediately realised that they couldn’t let such a talent slip through their fingers and had him sign a contract as a works driver that’s still in force today.

“OAK Racing and I have been talking since last year and they knew I wanted to do Le Mans,” says Estre. “I get on well with this team, in particular with Philippe Dumas. We met up again at the Daytona 24 Hours. I’m happy that OAK Racing was able to reach an agreement with Chris Cumming, a Canadian driver with whom I shared a Porsche at Daytona and Sebring in 2012. He’s currently racing in LMPC (the Le Mans Prototype Challenge) in the United SportsCar Championship and we’ve kept up a very good relationship. Very recently, Laurens Vanthoor joined the line-up. We’ve scheduled two-days private testing before the Le Mans 24 Hours. It’s a fantastic opportunity for me, and I’d really like to express my sincerest thanks to Philippe Dumas for putting his trust in me once again.”

Dumas says that he too is very happy with the driver line-up in the no. 34 Ligier JS P2 Honda Dunlop. “I knew that Kevin was wondering how he could do Le Mans as the places are pretty scarce. The whole world wanted to race in this car! We spoke about Chris Cumming who’s a very good amateur driver. In 2014, he tested a Ligier JS P2 with OAK Racing in New Orleans. Kevin said he would contact him again and after that we reached agreement without problems. I wanted to have a good line-up in this car. Like Laurens Vanthoor Kevin’s a future star and he needs to do Le Mans for his career. It’s great for him to be able to take advantage of such a competitive package, one of the best and most reliable LM P2s, a Honda engine and Dunlop tyres that are the benchmark in the category. He’s already tested a Formula Le Mans and an LM P2 of another make, but it’s obvious that he’ll have to learn. Although we’ll have three rookies in this car we’ve got a good hand to play provided we approach the race with a certain humility.”

OAK Racing won the LM P2 class as well in the Le Mans 24 Hours as the FIA World Endurance Championship’s LM P2 Trophy in 2013. The Ligier JS P2 built by Onroak Automotive set pole position and took second place in class in its Le Mans debut last year.

The details of Kevin’s 2015 season as a McLaren GT works driver in Europe will be announced soon but the French ace was happy with his debut in the very competitive Pirelli World Challenge this weekend, as he dominated Race 2 in the inaugural meeting in Austin, Texas.