In its very first participation in a race, the ORECA 07 LM P2 confirmed that it will be a force to be reckoned with in 2017. The few electronic problems encountered in Florida were minor compared to the true potential that teams competing in the legendary race, have already been able to demonstrate.
Represented by three cars entrusted to the JDC-Miller Motorsports, Rebellion Racing and DragonSpeed, the ORECA 07’s first foray into competition was truly positive, even though the Florida race was not exactly easy going for the three teams.
Qualifying: the ORECA 07 first of the LM P2s
DragonSpeed was not able to take part in the qualification practice session because of an incident, and had to switch out chassis prior to the race. The driver line-up made of Hedman/Lapierre/Hanley/Duval started therefore from 12th place on the grid, a position that clearly failed to represent the ORECA 07’s performance level, compared to the excellent third position achieved by Rebellion Racing. The Swiss team, thanks to Jani/Sarrazin/Heidfeld/Buemi, set the fastest LM P2 lap, with a time closed to both Cadillac DPis on the first row.
The race: some frustrations and many satisfactions
This impressive performance in the practice sessions was confirmed during the race, as once again the ORECA 07 set the fastest LM P2 lap times during the 24-hour race. The #13 car even joined the battle for the lead during the first hour of the race. Unfortunately for both – the Rebellion Racing car at the end of the second hour, and the DragonSpeed car four hours later – an electronic problem with the accelerator marred an otherwise promising early race spent between the third and the fifth positions. This problem, though not the fault of ORECA, cost both cars to stand nearly 20 minutes in the garage.
With solid reliability, JDC-Miller Motorsports’ #85 car covered laps flawlessly, while Rebellion Racing and DragonSpeed made up time during the night, with impressively consistent stints, despite delicate conditions due to the rain.
The capricious night-time weather caused several neutralization periods and surprised many competitors. Such was the case for DragonSpeed, trapped before noon at the Bus Stop, possibly after a slight contact with a competitor on the banking, earlier in the race. The damage spelled retirement for #81 although it had rejoined the top five Prototype classification, making up four laps to the race leaders!
Rebellion Racing’s #13 car endured one final electronic problem three hours from the finish, which pushed it back to the eighth spot in the Prototype class.
Regarding the ORECA 07’s first appearance in a race, the three teams can be quite pleased, as ORECA president and founder Hugues de Chaunac said:
“A new car’s first race, especially when it is 24 hours, is never easy. The first feedback is satisfactory for the ORECA 07 which has already demonstrated its potential as the only car capable of fighting with the Cadillac DPis during qualifying and early in the race. Two of our cars experienced electronic problems, which had nothing to do with the design of the ORECA 07. It is frustrating, particularly when one sees the number of laps regained during the night, but the positive notes of this race are stronger. It was a difficult edition in terms of weather conditions, and the three teams competed very well. JDC-Miller Motorsports demonstrated focus and reliability, finishing fifth in the Prototype class for its first race with an LM P2. Rebellion Racing was competitive and had the capability of fighting at the top of the field. DragonSpeed achieved a great performance after reclaiming quite a bit of ground, and remarkably rebuilding its car on Thursday evening. There are a lot of good points and many lessons to be learned. This will allow us to progress and be even better in future races.”
This 55th edition of the Rolex 24 at Daytona was typical in that difficulties which affected most competitors. But these same struggles will also allow them to make necessary adjustments for the upcoming races. The next round, the 12 Hours of Sebring, also in Florida, is set to take place in a little more than a month and a half.
The ORECA 07s at Daytona: Important Stats
JDC-Miller Motorsports #85
Rebellion Racing #13
Qualifying: 3rd (1st LM P2 on the starting grid)
Race: 8th (best LM P2 time in-race)
Race: Retirement 563rd lap / broken suspension
*no qualifying time for lack of participation in the session