Team Oreca-Matmut Paul Ricard test summary

A successful test session... and a surprise! The no.10 Courage-Oreca covered its endurance simulation while no.11 brought its development programme to a successful conclusion. The Team ORECA-Matmut tackled its first preparation session ...

A successful test session... and a surprise!

The no.10 Courage-Oreca covered its endurance simulation while no.11 brought its development programme to a successful conclusion.

The Team ORECA-Matmut tackled its first preparation session with several objectives: firstly, to test the reliability of new mechanical components and also to continue the set-up work on the new cars including the suspension. By the end of the official Le Mans Series test on the Paul Ricard HTTT circuit the two Courage-Orecas had accomplished their mission

On Sunday, the test kicked off with Bruno Senna the surprise guest - in the Oreca pits. The young Brazilian discovered what it's like to drive a prototype at the wheel of the no. 10 Courage-Oreca LM P1, which he shared with Stephane Ortelli and Soheil Ayari. In the morning, the three drivers began a long-distance test. In the course of the three sessions they covered no fewer than 324 laps without meeting the slightest problem..

After his first laps in the car Bruno Senna was satisfied with this new experience: "Coming here I've discovered a totally different world, and I feel I'm a better driver for it. This test has been very enriching. The team asked me to help with the set-up work and I had to manage tyre and fuel consumption. I did my first-ever night stint! It's all very different to what I've known before, and I really appreciated this experience. I liked it and I'd love to do it again! While my aim is still to do Formula 1, I said to myself that long-distance racing could be something really great."

The following day, Ayari and Ortelli continued the endurance test with the same engine etc. Each driver double-stinted and covered an additional 200 laps. They pitted on three occasion: twice for minor glitches and the third after contact with a GT. Apart from that, the no.10 Courage-Oreca covered around 3000 kilometres without any unforeseen stops.

In the no.11 Courage-Oreca, Olivier Panis and Niciolas Lapierre were also very busy. After the two days the two had racked up around 300 laps. They concentrated on developing the new car penned by the design office, continued the test programme begun six weeks earlier, and took advantage of new brakes and an engine evolution from AIM.

Quotes :

Hugues de Chaunac (Group ORECA President): "The team's done a great job both in terms of development and reliability. We've continued pushing forward, progressing. There are still a few things to be sorted out but we put our finger on a few interesting points. Bruno Senna's test was a big surprise! We found him to be a talented driver who integrated himself into the team very quickly and he thoroughly enjoyed the experience. In all three areas we've got every reason to be satisfied. We've seen what we have to do to get ready for Le Mans."

David Floury (technical director): "We've run through our complete development programme. We've got a better understanding of the new car and the evolutions are going in the right direction engine, brakes and electronics. We used a 2008 wing to have a real reference point. The gain in pure performance is good. In parallel, the LM P1 doing the endurance test racked up the kilometres with already tried and tested components. We had a couple of little scares because of details but we've already corrected them. The balance sheet is positive."

Olivier Panis (no.11 Courage-Oreca): "The test's gone off very well. Running with the other cars gives us a good idea of where we stand. There's still work to be done but we're now starting to use the car's potential. We're getting to understand it better and better and the new engine's an improvement at high revs. Overall, it's very positive both from a development and reliability point of view. We know where we are and we can't wait to be in Barcelona. It's going to be a closely-fought championship for which we've got great ambitions."

Nicolas Lapierre (no.11 Courage-Oreca): "The car's made a lot of progress over the two days. During the previous sessions it was a question of sorting it out. Now we're fine- tuning the research. We're already working on the set-up, and we're much further ahead than we were this time last year. The times are pretty good too, and above all they're consistent."

Stephane Ortelli (no.10 Courage-Oreca): "The car's awesome! We were in endurance set-up, but it handled like a dream. The brakes are consistent and the aero's well balanced. Its behaviour got better and better as we racked up the laps, and I really enjoyed driving it. You can feel all the work that's been done this winter. The new suspension gives a lot more grip and good entry speed into the corners. And to end on a high note, the reliability's great!"

Soheil Ayari (no.10 Courage-Oreca): "I had a whale of a time! In relation to the 2008 car the LM P1's evolved in the right direction. The new suspension geometry has done a lot to improve the road holding. I'm surprised at the speed you can carry into the corners. It's unbelievable! Riding the kerbs has also improved, and we've moved up to a new level. We also tried to mix the tyres with some very interesting results."

-credit: o-m

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About this article
Series European Le Mans
Drivers Olivier Panis , Stéphane Ortelli , Soheil Ayari , Nicolas Lapierre , Bruno Senna , Hugues de Chaunac