Karun Chandhok admits he fears a two-division LMP2 race in the Le Mans 24 Hours, admitting that the Oreca runners are in a league of their own.
Oreca dominated the official test for the French endurance classic, with the French manufacturer’s 07-Gibsons locking out the top 10 spots in the LMP2 class.
The #32 United Autosports Ligier JS P217 was the fastest non-Oreca in 13th place, but with a time that was nearly four seconds off the pacesetting #35 Signatech Alpine.
Along with Panis-Barthez Competition, United was testing a new low-downforce aero kit, which has yet to be approved by the FIA and race organiser Automobile Club de l'Ouest.
Chandhok, who shares the #34 Tockwith Motorsport Ligier with Philip Hanson and Nigel Moore, is bracing himself for a difficult outing at Le Mans. given Oreca’s pace in the run up to the event.
“The Orecas are looking racy,” Chandhok told Motorsport.com. “They [the organisers] need to think about the show a little bit.
"I know they’ve got 15 cars, but part of sportscar racing is having different manufacturers competing. If you’ve got one that’s so far ahead of the others, it’s not much fun for the show. It’s not much fun for the people who aren’t in Orecas.
“Don’t get me wrong, Oreca have done an amazing job. They are a very good car company. We can be helped a little bit as well. There is a kit there that we know is better, so hopefully we will get it."
He added: “Realistically we are competing against United and the other Ligiers. And we will see [how] the Dallaras [perform]. [But] the Orecas seems to be in a different race.”
Albuquerque targeting podium
Chandhok's pessimism wasn't shared by United’s Filipe Albuquerque, who believes improvements in the final week can put the ELMS LMP3 champion squad in contention for a class podium finish.
The Portuguese, who shares the #32 car with Will Owen and Hugo de Sadeleer, nonetheless stressed that such a result will only be a possible with a clean, trouble-free race.
“In the last six-seven days, it’s all about where we can go faster,” Albuquerque told Motorsport.com.
“After analysing data we found points where can improve, so we are just squeezing out the maximum of what we have.
“The question that we have now is how much can we improve? Will it be enough for the Orecas? Do the Orecas have much more? Or do they have only two tenths left? That’s the question."
He added: “If you stay out of problems, which is very tough, a good result is very open. Within the top five you can finish, for sure. Maybe you can finish in the top three. Definitely our goal will be to finish on the podium.
“But Le Mans is very hard. We need to set off problems and do a clean race. We need to squeeze out everything that we have from the car and ourselves. Then we will see where we are. But normally we are up there.”