United had 'no chance' in WEC without Oreca switch

United Autosports would have stood "no chance" of competing for LMP2 wins in the FIA World Endurance Championship without its switch to Oreca chassis, believes Filipe Albuquerque.

United had 'no chance' in WEC without Oreca switch

The team co-owned by McLaren CEO Zak Brown revealed last month it was switching from a Ligier JS P217 to an Oreca 07 for the 2019/20 season, and was immediately on the pace with its new car in the pre-season Prologue test at Barcelona.

Ex-Formula 1 racer Paul di Resta set the second-fastest time in class for United during the test, behind only the Racing Team Nederland Oreca piloted by Nyck de Vries.

Albuquerque, who'll share the United Oreca with di Resta and Phil Hanson this season, is convinced the team will be a contender for victories straight away.

He said he could immediately feel a difference with the new machine in comparison to the Ligier he drove a couple of days beforehand in the Barcelona European Le Mans Series event.

"I was super-motivated when I got the first laps in the Oreca at the same track that I drove the Ligier three days before," Albuquerque told Motorsport.com.

"The difference was quite big and we went from struggling to be within 0.8 seconds of the fastest guys to having the same speed as [Signatech] Alpine and TDS [Team Nederland], the ‘superstars’ of the LMP2 class.

"We were there straight away. Even if we are new with the car, after our performance in Barcelona, we are definitely aiming to win the first race."

Read Also:

United's decision to change cars came off the back of a subdued showing in this year's Le Mans 24 Hours, in which Albuquerque, di Resta and Hanson finished fourth, three laps down on the winning Signatech Alpine Oreca.

Asked if he felt competing for victories in the WEC would have been impossible in a Ligier, Albuquerque replied: "Yeah, I would say so.

"Last year when we had the two wins [at Spa and Portimao in ELMS] when we switched tyres [from Dunlop to Michelin], the car was just working fantastically for us.

"Then Dunlop caught up and I think there is not a big difference now, so no chance [to make up for Ligier’s lack of speed]. We were a second, 1.5s off the pace."

#22 United Autosport Oreca 07 - Gibson: Philip Hanson, Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta

#22 United Autosport Oreca 07 - Gibson: Philip Hanson, Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta

Photo by: FIA WEC

Van der Garde delighted with Oreca switch

Another LMP2 team to have made the transition to Oreca machinery over the off-season is Team Nederland, which has also entered into an alliance with TDS Racing.

Giedo van der Garde, who will join de Vries and Frits van Eerd for another full campaign with the Dutch team, said the Oreca was significantly easier to drive than the Dallara P217 the team campaigned during the 2018/19 superseason.

"It’s a completely different car to drive," van der Garde told Motorsport.com. "At the start we had to get used to it, but it’s an easier car in every aspect.

"The Dallara was a car where sometimes the balance was just right and then it was suddenly gone. And then it became a really difficult car to drive.

"You can see Frits gained confidence with this car [the Oreca] and he was making big steps. With this car he knows exactly what he needs to do and where he needs to go. With the Dallara he was sometimes lost and it showed in the results.

"With the Dallara we had to figure out everything ourselves because we didn’t have any references, I spent a lot of time on that. I am very happy we made this choice.

"We hope to show what we can do in Silverstone and hopefully fight for the podium. If we have a good day, don’t make mistakes and have a bit of luck, then we’re right there."

Read Also:

#29 Racing Team Nederland Oreca 07 - Gibson: Frits an Eerd, Giedo van der Garde, Nyck de Vries

#29 Racing Team Nederland Oreca 07 - Gibson: Frits an Eerd, Giedo van der Garde, Nyck de Vries

Photo by: Racing Team Nederland

shares
comments
Oreca in manufacturer talks to make WEC hypercar

Previous article

Oreca in manufacturer talks to make WEC hypercar

Next article

Who is Toyota’s new Japanese WEC protege?

Who is Toyota’s new Japanese WEC protege?
Load comments
The understated Le Mans legend who has earned a testimonial Prime

The understated Le Mans legend who has earned a testimonial

OPINION: After 24 Le Mans 24 Hours participations, 50-year-old Emmanuel Collard will be absent from the grid this year, stuck at the mercy of his gold driver grading. But, while he's not motivated by breaking start records, the French veteran is determined to return to the field next year.

WEC
Jul 24, 2021
How glitches threatened Toyota's unbeaten WEC streak Prime

How glitches threatened Toyota's unbeaten WEC streak

The FIA World Endurance Championship's long-awaited return to Monza posed the sternest test yet for Toyota's new hypercar. Although the Japanese marque's GR010 Hybrid remains unbeaten, the victory for Mike Conway, Jose Maria Lopez and Kamui Kobayashi was far from plain sailing.

WEC
Jul 19, 2021
The significance of the next step in WEC/IMSA convergence Prime

The significance of the next step in WEC/IMSA convergence

Following the latest convergence connection permitting Le Mans Hypercars from the FIA World Endurance Championship to compete against LMDh entries in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship from 2023, it could open up enticing options not only to manufacturers but also for the calendar and race formats

WEC
Jul 13, 2021
How overlooked Mazda produced one of Le Mans' greatest shocks Prime

How overlooked Mazda produced one of Le Mans' greatest shocks

The screaming rotary-engined Mazda 787 is regarded as one of the most popular Le Mans 24 Hours-winning cars, but until its surprise success on this day 30 years ago it was never regarded as a likely victor. But that reckoned without a new technical partner, some canny political manoeuvring and a rival's bizarre self-inflicted weakness.

Le Mans
Jun 23, 2021
How Alpine's stunted Portimao charge kept Toyota clear Prime

How Alpine's stunted Portimao charge kept Toyota clear

Despite going stride for stride for pace at Portimao, Alpine’s grandfathered LMP1 couldn’t convert pole position into a sustained victory fight against Toyota. And due to rules and car limitations that are set in stone, the French manufacturer will be searching for solutions in its own battle of endurance.

WEC
Jun 14, 2021
Charting 100 world championship sportscar starts for Toyota Prime

Charting 100 world championship sportscar starts for Toyota

This weekend's Portimao 8 Hours round of the FIA World Endurance Championship marks the 100th world champion prototype start for Toyota. Here are the major milestones on the road to three figures since the earliest low-key days of its entry into the Group C arena nearly 40 years ago.

WEC
Jun 12, 2021
The philosophical problems the WEC's new Hypercar class is already facing Prime

The philosophical problems the WEC's new Hypercar class is already facing

Most of the column inches after the World Endurance Championship's opener were centred around the relative pace of the Hypercar class and the LMP2s, but there's another question that needs addressing in order for the new division to have a successful future

WEC
May 7, 2021
How stumbling Toyota drew first blood in the WEC's new era Prime

How stumbling Toyota drew first blood in the WEC's new era

Amid concerns that the new Hypercar class would be upstaged on debut by the spec LMP2 machines at Spa, Toyota delivered the pole and victory that the vast majority of observers expected. But neither car had a clean run, which gave the grandfathered Alpine LMP1 an unexpected shot at glory.

WEC
May 4, 2021