Six ORECA 03 will take part in the first round of the European Le Mans Series.
At home, they will be in the running for the overall victory.
After the 12 Hours of Sebring, highlighted by a third place finish in LMP2 in the FIA World Endurance Championship for Pecom Racing, ORECA will be making its entrance into the European Le Mans Series. No less than six ORECA 03 will be entered in this championship where LMP2 is now the top class. With Boutsen Ginion Racing, Murphy Prototypes, Pecom Racing, Race Performance, Sébastien Loeb Racing and Thiriet by TDS Racing, the ORECA chassis will attempt to start its European campaign in the best of fashion.
Thiriet by TDS Racing on known terrain.
Three of the six teams present raced in the 2011 edition of the 6 Hours of the Castellet. Among them, Thiriet by TDS Racing had notched the pole position. With two victories last year (Spa and Estoril), the French team enters the season with ambition. « We want to begin our season on a positive note » confirms Mathias Bèche. « The objective is to win but we know that our competition is tough, with talented drivers. As Tom Kristensen said, in order to finish first, you must first finish. We must get to the finish without encountering a problem or committing the slightest error. » To complete its mission, Thiriet by TDS Racing will be relying on a known package. « We have the advantage of knowing each other well » said Mathias Bèche. « With Pierre (Thiriet), we get along perfectly. The team is excellent and knows how to mix professionalism with a good working atmosphere. We have a competitive and reliable car, so we have an opportunity and we want to fight for the title. »
Boutsen Ginion Racing with an F1 driver…
Boutsen Ginion Racing also knows the ORECA 03 well after running the car last season. At the Castellet, the No. 45 will be in the hands of Bastien Briere, Jack Clarke and… Sébastien Buemi, third driver at Red Bull F1. A choice recruit, as explained by Olivier Lainé, team boss: « Sébastien will be a great catalist. With his speed, experience and previous path, he will help us a lot. His contribution in terms of car setup will be invaluable. »
The Belgian team will be lining up a driving squad that is completely new to the Paul Ricard circuit therefore this first round will be a learning experience. « We have a number of new elements and we will therefore need a little bit of time to adapt. Our first goal is to successfully complete that acclimatisation and Saturday, with three practice sessions, promises to be studious. In any case, we want to attack the season with the best possible result.. »
Race Performance focusing on continuity.
Well versed in endurance racing, Race Performance is entering its third campaign in endurance and its second with the ORECA 03. The team will rely on a 100% Swiss trio – composed of Michel Frey, Jonathan Hirshi et Ralph Meichtry – who had already driven together at Estoril. After a convincing end of season, with notably a podium at Silverstone, the Swiss team will attempt to follow a consistent and uninterrupted progression. Ambitions have logically been revised higher with, among others, the recruitment of a new engineer in Othmar Welti.
Pecom Racing riding the high of Sebring…
Entered under the Argentine banner, Pecom Racing quickly adopted the ORECA 03. After the ALMS Winter Test and the European Le Mans Series official tests to prepare for 2012, the team had a successful debut with the prototype designed and built in Signes, France. This good performance at the 12 Hours of Sebring was solidified by a third place finish in the FIA World Endurance Championship. Pecom Racing will again count on Luis Perez Companc, Pierre Kaffer and Soheil Ayari. A homogeneous driving squad that showed its potential in Florida.
The big debut for Sébastien Loeb Racing !
Five months after the announcement from Sébastien Loeb and Dominique Heintz at the Castellet, Sébastien Loeb Racing returns to the Paul Ricard circuit for its first appearance in competition. The Alsacian team chose the ORECA 03 to make their debut in endurance racing and they have assembled the best possible elements to attain lofty goals. In addition to the recruitment of a Peugeot Sport engineer, two major names joined the team : Nicolas Minassian and Stéphane Sarrazin, Peugeot drivers from 2007 to 2011. The two men will be joined by the promising Nicolas Marroc to form a top trio that will be aiming for the top of the leaderboard.
Experience and newness for Murphy Prototypes…
Just like Sébastien Loeb Racing, Murphy Prototypes will be competiting in its first event with the ORECA 03. The Irish team is mixing newness with experience. The new comes from the creation of the team during the off season, headed up by Greg Murphy, while the experience comes from the driving squad composed of Jody Firth, who already tasted victory with the ORECA in 2011, Warren Hughes and Luca Moro, as well as the technical support from Team RLR. After a positive discovery of the car during tests at the beginning of the month, Murphy Prototypes is looking forward to the 6 Hours of the Castelet with ambition.
It’s a theme which will be common among the six teams entering an ORECA chassis against four other constructors, Lola, Morgan, Norma and Zytek.