The new LMP2 coupe built by the French OAK organization will be known as a Ligier as part of a tie-up that will create a range of prototypes stretching from entry-level cars to LMP1.
Under the deal with Ligier, which was reborn when ex-Formula 1 team owner Guy Ligier took over racing car constructor Martini in 2004, OAK and sister company Onroak Automotive will be able to offer for sale a Group CN prototype, a car for the LMP3 category due to be introduced in 2015, open and closed P2s and a P1 machine for privateers.
Ligier, whose eponymous cars raced at Le Mans before his entry into F1 in 1976, said: “This association with Onroak Automotive is very important for my company and in particular for the opening up of the Asian market, which is where the future lies.
“I have every confidence in Jacques Nicolet [boss of OAK and Onroak], with whom I have enjoyed a long friendship, to bring the Ligier name back to the summit of endurance.”
Nicolet, who raced a Ligier CN car in VdeV series before moving into P2, is known to be a fan of the ex-F1 team and believes that taking the Ligier name will help build his company.
“The Ligier make met with success in F1 and it has scored a top-three finish at Le Mans; it has a real magic about it and I feel very proud to associate myself with this name,” he said.
Onroak, which is now a separate company to OAK Racing, has already taken over development of Ligier’s latest CN car, the JS53 Evo. It will push sales of the car in Asia, where it will be eligible for next year’s Asian Le Mans Series.
An LMP3 prototype to be developed for 2015 is likely to be known as a Ligier, while Onroak’s forthcoming LMP1 car could also take the name of a marque that won nine grands prix in its 21-season stay in F1.
Onroak has released pictures of the first monocoque of its closed-top P2 design, but has yet to reveal when the car will race for the first time. It is likely to come on stream in the first half of the season and it is understood that the plan is for it to be ready in time for the Le Mans 24 Hours in June. Onroak will continue to sell its open-top P2, which will remain known as a Morgan.
No decision has been made on the name of Onroak’s P1 coupe, which is expected to make its debut in round two of the WEC at Spa.
Nicolet has a two-pronged approach and is looking to sell a non-hybrid customer version, but is also aiming for a tie-up with a manufacturer for a car incorporating energy-retrieval systems.
Ligier finished second overall at Le Mans in 1975 with a Cosworth-powered JS2 prototype (LEFT) shared by Jean-Louis Lafosse and Guy Chasseuil finished only a lap down on the winning Gulf-Mirage.