Portimao: Team ORECA Matmut preview

Algarve 1000kms: Aiming for the podium! After its strong performance in the Le Mans 24 Hours, the Team ORECA-Matmut-AIM will tackle the third round of the Le Mans Series with the intention of putting on a storming performance. One-and-a-half...

Algarve 1000kms: Aiming for the podium!

After its strong performance in the Le Mans 24 Hours, the Team ORECA-Matmut-AIM will tackle the third round of the Le Mans Series with the intention of putting on a storming performance.

One-and-a-half months after the Le Mans 24 Hours, which ended in a strong fifth place overall for Panis-Lapierre-Ayari, the Team ORECA-Matmut-AIM will be competing in the third round of the Le Mans Series in the south of Portugal. The Signes--based team will be gunning for a second podium finish after the one scored in Barcelona at the start of the 2009 season.

While the team raced in the first two rounds of the championship with Le Mans as its main aim, the approach will be different in the Algarve. "We'll be tackling this event with different objectives to Barcelona or Spa," underlines Hugues de Chaunac. "This time, our aim is to get the very best out of the ORECA 01's qualities and take the fight for victory to Aston Martin and Pescarolo."

To achieve this, the Team ORECA-Matmut-AIM can count of the out-and-out pace of its drivers: Bruno Senna and Tiago Monteiro in no.10 and Olivier Panis and Nicolas Lapierre in no.11. The four men's aim will be to demonstrate the core qualities of the ORECA 01. "We scored a strong fifth place in the Sarthe with a car that showed excellent reliability despite its newness," de Chaunac continues. "From now on, we're working on outright performance. The Algarve is one step: we have to improve the competitiveness of this car that's already demonstrated considerable potential."

The team has two objectives: firstly, score an excellent result and secondly prepare for the future. It will be necessary to cope with two special factors during the event: the race will take place on the new Portimao circuit and it will be held at nighttime. "Racing at night is a good idea," de Chaunac comments. "It provides variety, and it's also a good move because of the heat in Portugal at that time of year. And don't forget, the last time a Le Mans Series race finished at night, an ORECA- entered car won!"

Olivier Panis, Nicolas Lapierre, Bruno Senna and Tiago Monteiro, the Odrivers of the two RECA 01s, will do their best to see that history Orepeats itself.

Tiago Monteiro (ORECA 01 no.10) : "A quick circuit"

Tiago, you're one of the few drivers to have actually raced there. What can you tell us about the track? "I've already raced there in the WTCC. It's a good layout, but it's not easy with several blind braking points. It's an undulating track with a variety of corners. It's a fairly quick circuit and there are few opportunities to relax, so it'll be tough from a physical point of view."

You'll be competing on home turf. How are you dealing with the fact of racing in front of your home crowd?

"After Porto in the WTCC, I'm delighted to be competing in Portugal again as I haven't driven all that much in my home country. This event gives me the opportunity to race in front of my friends, my family, my partners and of course my supporters. It's great even though you have to cope with this factor: it's positive pressure and an extra source of motivation."

After Le Mans, you're back at the wheel of a prototype...

"Yes, and I'm very happy to be driving the ORECA 01 again. The race is shorter and even if we have to pace the car we'll be able to push harder. For a driver that makes it all the more pleasurable. This time I'm determined to see the chequered flag and score a good result."

Nicolas Lapierre (ORECA 01 no.11) : "Take the fight to our rivals!"

Nicolas, after your fifth place at Le Mans, what's your aim in Portugal? "The podium preferably the topmost step! We want to fight for victory. At Le Mans caution was the watchword. We're going to adopt a much more aggressive strategy in Portugal, given the format; we'll push harder, use the kerbs etc. We're going to take the fight to our rivals, and if everything goes right during the weekend we won't be too far off the topmost step of the podium."

How are you getting to know the circuit?

"I've begun watching videos of the track, which is a good way to learn. I'll also analyze the telemetry. But it'll all happen once we're there. We're going to walk round the circuit to familiarize ourselves with the tiniest details. Tiago will be a big help from this point of view."

Do you like racing at night?

"Yes, I do even if it's a bit trickier. In general, the visibility isn't as good but the Portimao circuit seems to be very well lit. Racing at nighttime gives a special ambience and a greater sense of intimacy with the spectators."

-credit: oreca

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About this article
Series European Le Mans
Drivers Olivier Panis , Tiago Monteiro , Nicolas Lapierre , Bruno Senna , Hugues de Chaunac