Road Atlanta: ORECA qualifying report

A little less than a week after its first laps around Road Atlanta, the ORECA 01 has completed its work before the start of the Petit Le Mans. Nicolas Lapierre qualified the No.7 in sixth position and will take tomorrow's start next to the fastest...

A little less than a week after its first laps around Road Atlanta, the ORECA 01 has completed its work before the start of the Petit Le Mans. Nicolas Lapierre qualified the No.7 in sixth position and will take tomorrow's start next to the fastest Acura.

Though the Team ORECA-Matmut-AIM had pole positions in its two last appearances, in Portimão and Silverstone, the goal this time was quite different. The team from Signes, France, crossed the Atlantic to learn and to compare itself with the big constructors. And this is precisely what Hughes de Chaunac's men have been doing for several days, trying to absorb as much about the totally new environment. Last weekend, Olivier Panis and Nicolas Lapierre learned the difficult track before being joined by Romain Dumas for his first laps in the ORECA 01. After their first taste of the track in changing weather conditions, the three men began work on the setup of their prototype. The challenge was to adapt the car to the particularities of Road Atlanta, meaning work on gear ratios, tire choices, downforce and mechanical grip. During testing and practice, progress was steady despite several interruptions in the sessions.

A After the qualifying session, Hughes de Chaunac was satisfied with the work done: "Sixth behind the De Ferran Motorsports Acura is our place, considering our inexperience here: the track is new for the car and two of our drivers. We had to adapt to a new terrain and we are getting faster and faster, proof that the team has worked hard. We wanted to learn and we are learning: both on the car and methods. Romain Dumas, with his experience here, has brought a lot of pertinent outside knowledge that helps. It's often details, but it gives us new things to work on. We are not here to win, but we have a smart race and we follow our strategy to the letter without committing any errors, we will be in the running. The goal is to gain as much experience as possible for the future."

Nicolas Lapierre:

"Qualifying went fairly well. Our objective was not to make a great time, but to prepare for the race. We progressed well during testing and practice and we can count on a well-balanced car. With a bit more time, we could get even closer to Acura. We are in a good place on the grid and we are the underdogs. We will aim to have a solide race with a consistent car."

Olivier Panis:

"Road Atlanta is a real drivers' circuit and we need a bit of time to adapt. Nonetheless, we gained confidence. The more the days go by, the more we are having fun. We have really progressed since our first run and the balance on the car is good. We still have a bit of a gap to close, but the car is nice to drive and this is what's needed for such a long and difficult race. Qualifying was beneficial for us and whether it's the team or the drivers, we are all learning. The track, the atmosphere, everything is different!"

Romain Dumas:

"Practice and qualifying told us we have a good base. With a few more tests, we could have been even more competitive. During this week, we've been able to answer a lot of questions. We will need to have a clean race. This will be our strong point. With Nicolas and Olivier, we gel as a team and if we can avoid problems while staying on the lead lap, we can target a good result."

-credit: oreca

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Series ALMS
Drivers Olivier Panis , Romain Dumas , Nicolas Lapierre