Following on a first half of the season dominated by Jacky Chan DC Racing and G-Drive Racing, the return to competition in FIA WEC this weekend in Mexico City has led to an outcome which may foreshadow a new order in the LM P2 class. Vaillante Rebellion clinched its first win since returning to LM P2; an indisputable victory even though CEFC Manor TRS Racing and Signatech Alpine Matmut showed resistance throughout the six racing hours. The Swiss team’s triumph also grants another success to ORECA Technology which celebrated, in Mexico, its 50th LM P2 win!
Taking place at more than 2,000 metres above sea level, this 5th round of the World Endurance Championship marked the end of the summer break. Most particularly in the LM P2 class, as different members of the ORECA family intend, during this second half of the season, to catch up with current dominant Chinese team Jacky Chan DC Racing which has won three of the four first rounds, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
With a reshuffled crew on board their No. 36 Alpine A470, team Signatech Alpine Matmut confirmed that ambition when clinching the pole position on Saturday afternoon. A first place which unfortunately the French squad would quickly let go of, as Vaillante Rebellion and their No. 31 ORECA 07 managed to weave their way through and take control of the race, a few minutes in only. Bruno Senna, Nicolas Prost and Julien Canal delivered fantastic stints to keep their car in first place. Making the most of a slightly different tyre strategy, Ben Hanley drove Manor TRS Racing’s No. 24 ORECA 07 in the lead, only 90 minutes away from the finish line, just before the race was neutralised because of a baseball on track.
Yet Jean-Eric Vergne’s new teammate got overtaken in the last hour. Despite Senna’s spin and a shortened ultimate pit stop (only 2 tyres changed), CEFC Manor TRS Racing did not gain enough time to maintain their lead in front of Prost, nephew of the famous Formula 1 World Champion. Trying too hard, CEFC Manor TRS Racing’s driver finally ended up making a mistake just four minutes before the end of the race, offering the 2nd place on a silver platter to Signatech Alpine Matmut, which delivered a great performance with a slightly unusual strategy.
With three podiums since the beginning of the season, Vaillante Rebellion turned a great performance into a first win with the ORECA 07 which might well totally revive the competition in the LM P2 class; not only as Signatech Alpine Matmut continues to capitalise in this category, but also because Jacky Chan DC Racing, which had been strong since the beginning of the season, did not make it on the podium for the very first time this year – Tung-Laurent-Jarvis, the crew at the top of the rankings, lost their chances in this race because of a recalcitrant clutch.
G-Drive Racing, though a little less comfortable compared to the European racetracks during the first half of the season, nonetheless garnered precious points this weekend in Mexico City. In the next-door box, TDS Racing’s, French driver Mathieu Vaxivière confirmed towards the end of the race – if anyone doubted it – that he had come back to his highest level since his ankle injury.
In this context, the end of the season in LM P2 promises to be really exciting. All teams of the great ORECA tribe will take to the track again in FIA WEC next week in the Circuit of the Americas (Austin). For some it will be a matter of confirming the current order established in Mexico City, while others will try to shake it up…
For ORECA, the satisfaction of seeing its latest LM P2 model unbeaten in the FIA World Endurance Championship this season is matched by a good statistic as this victory in Mexico symbolizes the 50th of an ORECA in LM P2!
“The 50th victory of an ORECA in LM P2 is a great reward for all the work of our technical team, which has invested a lot in recent years,” said David Floury, Technical Director of ORECA. “Thank you to all the teams who have gleaned each of these victories, this 50th victory is the first one of Rebellion since their return in LM P2. We are very happy: a big THANK YOU to them! We are fortunately happy and proud of this score in a LM P2 category which is one of the last in motorsport where you can design a car from a white sheet and compete against other manufacturers. It is a fantastic category that knows a beautiful we are now looking forward to celebrating the 100th victory! “