Road Atlanta: Team ORECA Matmut preview

Petit Le Mans : American apprenticeship! After winning the Silverstone 1000kms, the Team ORECA-Matmut-AIM is heading off to Road Atlanta where an ORECA 01 has been entered for Panis-Lapierre-Dumas in the 2009 Petit Le...

Petit Le Mans : American apprenticeship!

After winning the Silverstone 1000kms, the Team ORECA-Matmut-AIM is heading off to Road Atlanta where an ORECA 01 has been entered for Panis-Lapierre-Dumas in the 2009 Petit Le Mans.

The Team ORECA-Matmut-AIM finished its European season in the best possible fashion with outright (and LM P1) victory on the Silverstone circuit in the final round of the Le Mans Series. After this first step in preparing for the 2010 Le Mans 24 Hours, the Signes- based team has crossed the Atlantic to race in the the Petit Le Mans the second-last round of the ALMS. After beating Aston Martin on its home turf at Silverstone, the ORECA 01 will take on Audi, Peugeot and Acura among others.

Hugues de Chaunac is really looking forward to this rendezvous. "First of all, I'm delighted that ORECA is back in the USA again; it's a place where we've written some of the most glorious chapters in our history. But above all, I'm curious and impatient: curious to see where we stand in relation to Acura and impatient to get out there and race!"

After its fifth place in this year's Le Mans 24 Hours, the whole Team ORECA-Matmut-AIM is already preparing for the 2010 Sarthe classic. It is determined to move up another step next year and it wants to stack all the odds in its favour, which is why it is racing in the Petit Le Mans. "For our Group, the year finishes at the end of June and starts at the beginning of July," explains de Chaunac. "For more than two months we've been concentrating on preparation for the 2010 Le Mans 24 Hours. That's why we've come to the Petit Le Mans, a challenge that'll provide a lot of information at all levels. The distance of 1000 miles, the battle with Acura, and a circuit that's very hard on the cars and drivers are all factors that make an entry at Road Atlanta worthwhile. It's in the biggest matches against the best teams in the best arenas that you learn the most!"

Learning is the key word of this adventure. "We don't have any calculated objectives," the ORECA Group President goes on. "What we're after is quality. For that we have to be there at the finish and learn as much as possible. We're determined to put on the best possible performance at every level. The car's undergone constant updating over the past few months. Silverstone was fresh proof of this with a new aero package on the rear of the ORECA 01. We'll continue running the car in the same dynamic at the Petit Le Mans." The Team ORECA-Matmut-AIM has set itself another aim on the Road Atlanta circuit as de Chaunac explains: "this challenge is all the more important as we intend to race in the 2010 Sebring 12 Hours. It's a very difficult event that requires a certain learning curve in American-style racing. Generally speaking, the Petit Le Mans and Sebring are just what the doctor ordered for us: these events are very demanding on both my men and their machines!"

The ORECA 01 will carry the number 7 at Braselton and will be entrusted to a talented trio of drivers. Olivier Panis and Nicolas Lapierre, third in the Le Mans Series ratings, will team up with Romain Dumas for this race. "The presence of Olivier and Nicolas was never in doubt," states de Chaunac. "They again showed their skills at Silverstone by setting pole and giving ORECA its first victory as a constructor. It's the best possible way to tackle the Petit Le Mans. To back them up we wanted an experienced driver who knows the American Le Mans Series and Road Atlanta, especially in prototypes, and that's exactly the case with Romain."

Private testing took place Saturday and Sunday, which gave the team the opportunity to take its first step in LM P1 in the USA, as well as evaluating the latest evolutions penned by the design office. Free practice will be held on Wednesday 23rd and Thursday 24th September with qualifying at 20h55 (French time) on Friday 25th. The start of the Petit Le Mans (1000 miles or 10 hours) will be given at on Saturday 26th September at 17h15 (French time).

-credit: oreca

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Series ALMS
Drivers Olivier Panis , Romain Dumas , Nicolas Lapierre , Hugues de Chaunac