Vaillante Rebellion’s win in LM P2 with the ORECA 07 at the FIA WEC 6 Hours of Mexico last weekend marked the 50th win of an ORECA built LMP2 chassis in only six years of experience in LM P2.
ORECA have released this interview with their Technical Director David Floury (pic below of David by Alexis Goure):
What does this 50th LM P2 win mean for ORECA?
“It’s a great reward for our entire technical and sales team. They’ve been working hard since the very beginning of this LM P2 adventure. It’s also a great satisfaction because those 50 wins have been clinched by many different teams. It’s really gratifying to develop a successful relationship with teams and we really want to associate all of those which have triumphed with an ORECA chassis, and to thank them for putting their trust in us.”
The first Le Mans Prototype made by ORECA was a P1, but we know that the 03 (first LM P2) was inspired by it. What do you remember of that car’s design?
“Yes, the ORECA 03 was inspired by the ORECA 01 LM P1, it was the same monocoque. Yet the car itself was very different from its big sister. The ORECA 03 project was launched straight after the ORECA 02, an LM P1 project which, with a heavy heart, we unfortunately ended up not producing. But it was good to immediately bounce back and start over with the design of the ORECA 03. We were so committed. The ORECA 03 delivered great performances straight away, which was a great satisfaction.”
How would you summarise the development and evolution of ORECA LM P2s?
“Since 2011 we have homologated four LM P2s: the ORECA 03, the ORECA 03R, the ORECA 05 and the ORECA 07 (as well as equivalent models for Alpine). We’ve gone from open cockpits to closed cockpits. We’ve worked a lot on quality and performance. ORECA LM P2s lap times in Le Mans have improved by 16 seconds, particularly with the increase of power, by around 100 horsepower with the new 2017 rules & regulations. All LM P2s aerodynamics has been developed in house with CFD simulations (digital wind tunnel). Throughout the years, we’ve also strengthened and improved our customer support. In addition to the quality of our products, the relationship we develop with our customer teams is a priority.”
Earlier this year, the 07 encountered a true success for its debut in Le Mans, with a one-two-three win in LM P2, just behind a Porsche in the overall standings, and pole in LM P2 with a best lap time which, six years earlier, would have positioned the car in front of all factory LM P1s of the time. How do you explain such an improvement regarding lap times in just a few years (the ORECA 03 first entered in Le Mans in 2011 was racing more than 16 seconds away from the P1s…)?
“There’re several factors to that. First, we’ve worked immensely on the performance and quality of the cars. We’ve constantly reduced their weight, looking at every detail. We’ve strengthened our expertise in CFD simulations and developed our own methodologies.
“In terms of downforce (mass/resistance ratio) we’ve really taken a leap forward in 6 years. We’ve also made the cars easier to handle and drive, particularly by working on mass-centering, on the centre of gravity height and on grounding. Also, alongside that, tyre manufacturers have made great progress, both the 2017 rules & regulations and Gibson’s work have enabled to gain over 100 horsepower.”
In 2011, ORECA was racing with a Peugeot 908… Did you imagine, at the time, that 6 years later you would be developing an LM P2 which would race faster than this prestigious car?
“Not at all! But, remember that in 2011 the Peugeot 908 of first generation was restricted a lot by the rules & regulations, the power of its engine was highly reduced between 2010 and 2011.
“However, the ORECA 07’s downforce performance is definitely superior to that of the 908 at the time. It’s both exciting and surprising to see how each project has allowed us to increase performance. Aerodynamics is a fascinating field, with a potential for development which still remains to be discovered.”
Almost 30 ORECA 07s have been delivered so far… This technical and commercial success has allowed ORECA to significantly grow as a manufacturer compared to ten years ago, when the company was assembling two ORECA 01s for its own needs. We can imagine that this development has probably not been that easy to accommodate…
“It’s indeed a constant challenge, but we can count on a fantastic technical and sales team. Thanks to them all!”
Looking at the standings we can see that most customer teams have always achieved great results with the ORECAs. Obviously performance is the main requirement for an LM P2, but ease of use also seems crucial, right?
“Totally. Making sure that the car is relatively easy to operate is an important requirement for us. Providing technical support and help to our customer teams is also one of the keys towards success.”
Considering the current enthusiasm for LM P2, worldwide, it could be that this 50th win is far from being the last one… Actually, is there already an ORECA 09 LM P2 somewhere in the back of your mind?
“An ORECA 11. The ORECA 09 will be for another project…
“Obviously, we’ve got lots of ideas for our next LM P2 and we’re already looking forward to working on it.”