Eight ORECA 03 chassis to tackle the legend ! ADR Delta, Boutsen Ginion Racing, Murphy Prototypes, Pecom Racing, Race Performance, Signatech-Nissan and Thiriet by TDS Racing will represent ORECA in the 80th edition…
Twelve months after its first appearance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the ORECA 03 is making its return to the famous Circuit de la Sarthe. There will be eight cars entered by seven teams : ADR Delta, Pecom Racing and Signatech-Nissan, present under the third round of the FIA World Endurance Championship, as well as Boutsen Ginion Racing, Murphy Prototypes, Race Performance and Thiriet by TDS Racing, regulars on the European Le Mans Series circuit. As the legend of Le Mans is more than ever one of the biggest challenges in auto racing, the bar will be set high for the teams, who will be benefitting from ORECA’s know-how and a « Le Mans » kit. Approach Le Mans continuing the good start to the season… After a conclusive 2011, highlighted by a pole position, lap record and podium finish at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and also a constructor’s championship in Le Mans Series and team’s title in the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, the ORECA 03 began the 2012 season on the right foot. As a result they go into the Le Mans week on a positive note. « Sebring came very quickly, but was within our expectations » explains Hugues de Chaunac, President of Groupe ORECA. « The two fi nish cars were in the top fi ve, with the third retiring after an accident. At the Castellet, the ORECA chassis scored a double. While at Spa, two cars finished on the podium, very close to victory after having led for a long time. In addition, one of the teams leads the Teams classifi cation in the WEC. The results are therefore satisfactory. » The ORECA contingency,very international with five nations represented (England, Argentina, Belgium, France, Ireland and Switzerland) is comprised of quality teams, all capable of running at the front. Fifth at Sebring and second at Spa, ADR Delta is currently the LMP2 class leader in the FIA World Endurance Championship. The British team, making their debut at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, will rely on drivers Tor Graves, John Martin and Jan Charouz. Pecom Racing found success in a podium finish in Florida and continues with their regular drivers, experienced men Pierre Kaffer and Soheil Ayari, alonside Luis Perez Companc. Also entered in FIA-WEC, Signatech-Nissan will enter two cars, one for Franck Mailleux, Olivier Lombard and Jordan Tresson, and a second for Nelson Panciatici, Roman Rusinov and Pierre Ragues.
These teams, who consistently show well on the international scene, will be joined by teams who have shone on the European continent. Boutsen Ginion Racing was one of the top teams in the 2011 Le Mans Series season and are coming off a top 5 finish at Spa. Bastien Brière, Jens Pertersen and Shinji Nakano will defend the Belgian team’s colours. For their first year, Murphy Prototypes have already knotched a podium finish at Spa and will rely on a homogeneous driving trio mixing youth with experience in Jody Firth, Warren Hughes and Brendon Hartley. After two sixth place finishes, Race Performance will be aiming for a top five finish with Michel Frey, Ralph Meichtry and Jonathan Hirschi driving the Judd powered ORECA 03. And finally but not least, the current European Le Mans Series leader, Thiriet by TDS Racing will be taking the start at the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the first time. Two-time winners in 2011, the Swiss team won the 6 Hours of the Castellet in Apriil and will be represented by Pierre Thiriet and Mathias Beche, accompanied by the reliable Christophe Tinseau. June 2012
Experience at the teams’ disposal… The seven teams running the ORECA will take advantage of the customer racing program put in place by ORECA Technology, based on Team ORECA’s experience. « We have the advantage of having been a team before. » underlines Christophe Guibbal, Director of the Design and Study Bureau. « We know the constraints of such an event, certain traps to avoid, and a few details that makes Le Mans, Le Mans. We are putting this experience gained over the years at the disposition of the teams running an ORECA chassis. Last year, we also entered an ORECA 03 at Le Mans as a one off. Having run on this track allowed us to learn a lot on the car and this benefi ts our customer teams. »
Of the eight ORECA 03 chassis on track, it is worth noting that six of them will be powered by a Nissan V8 prepared and managed by ORECA’s engine department in Magny Cours. Another challenge against the exceptional field of competitors for this 80th edition. « The LMP2 category has never reached this caliber before, whether it be in quantity or quality, both in terms of the drivers and the teams. » continues Christophe Guibbal. « This level of quality pushes us even further. It’s good to compare yourself to other constructors such as Honda, Lola, Zytek, Morgan and Norma. It’s important for ORECA to be in an open competition, knowing it’s also a fi rst. Until now, our experience was with a single-type series in Formula Le Mans. There are already top performers present and they allow us to prove ourselves, including the Honda which is based on a car that ran against the Porsche RS Spyder no so long ago. »
Second last year with Signatech-Nissan, ORECA will be attempting to reach another podium at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, or better. « The feelings are different than those felt within our own team : the customer program is here to support the teams. Nonetheless, the goal is the same : to see an ORECA win. And this aim continues within Team ORECA’s history. Therefore this race is close to our hearts…at least as much as before, if not more ! » concludes Christophe Guibbal.
After the traditional scrutineering on Sunday and Monday, practice will be Wednesday from 4p.m. to 8 p.m. The first qualifying session will be that night from 10p.m. to midnight. The second and third qualifying sessions will be Thursday, from 7p.m. to 9p.m. then 10p.m. to midnight. The start of the 24 Hours of Le Mans will be given at 3p.m. on Saturday, June 16.