ORECA will be well represented on Sunday, June 3 during the Test Day for the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2012. The eight ORECA 03 invited to take part in the legendary twice around the clock event on Jun 16 will be in action for a first outing on the Sarthe circuit : ADR Delta, Boutsen Ginion Racing, Murphy Prototypes, Pecom Racing, Race Performance, Signatech-Nissan with two chassis, and Thiriet by TDS Racing. These seven teams will be joined by Sébastien Loeb Racing, participating in the testing day with Sébastien Loeb onboard and a look ahead to 2013. Two Formula Le Mans will also be present, one of which driven by footballer Fabien Barthez.
The ORECA 03 with the kit « Le Mans »
For the teams, the traditional Test Day is generally a dress rehearsal before the big week of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with a chance to dial in their cars. This single session will also be an opportunity to test the « Le Mans » kit prepared by the ORECA design and study department. The kit’s price is capped by the rules.
«It’s a unique circuit, that’s no secret, » underlines Christophe Guibbal, Design and Study Bureau Director. « The aero goal is completely opposite compared to other tracks, which generally demand a higher level of downforce, meaning a higher drag coefficient. Inversely, at Le Mans, you must reduce the drag, and it’s the downforce that is also reduced as a consequence. The Le Mans kit must lean toward this objective and includes several modifications due to rules changes. The work is mostly in the details even if some evolutions are visible on the car.»
A mix of experience and « rookies »
For some teams, this Test Day will be a return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans track. This is the case for Signatech-Nissan, pole winners and second place finishers in 2011. This time, the Bourges-based team is entering two cars, one for pour Jordan Tresson, Franck Mailleux and Olivier Lombard, the other for Pierre Ragues, Nelson Panciatici and Roman Rusinov. Race Performance, 6th last season, is now a regular on the Sarthe circuit. The Judd-powered ORECA 03 will be shared by a Swiss trio composed of Michel Frey, Ralph Meichtry and Jonathan Hirschi. Pecom Racing also knows Le Mans, but has yet to run the ORECA chassis there, which will be driven by Soheil Ayari, Luis Perez Companc and Pierre Kaffer.
Current leaders in the European Le Mans Series championship, after their win at the 6 Hours of the Castellet, Thiriet by TDS Racing will be making their first appearance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Test Day is therefore important for drivers Pierre Thiriet, Mahias Beche and Christophe Tinseau. It’s a similar situation for Boutsen Ginion Racing, present on the european scene for two season. As when the team placed fifth at the 6 Hours of Spa, the Belgian team will be relying on Bastien Brière and Jens Petersen, joined by Shinji Nakano. The last two « rookie » teams are heading into the even on good momentum. ADR Delta, leads the LMP2 class in the FIA World Endurance Championship after finishing second at the 6 Hours of Spa with Tor Graves, John Martin and Robbie Kerr. Murphy Prototypes, who also tasted the joy of a podium finish in the Belgian Ardennes, will be making its debut in the Sarthe with Warren Hughes, Jody Firth and Brendon Hartley.
And finally, Sébastien Loeb Racing, whose objective is to take part in the 2013 Le Mans 24 Hours, will be preparing for the future with Sébastien Loeb, making his return to la Sarthe, Nicolas Marroc and Jean-Karl Vernay.
Two Formula Le Mans on track
In addition to the nine ORECA 03 chassis entered for the Test Day, two Formula Le Mans will be on track. Although the primary purpose of the session is to allow teams to prepare for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, it also gives drivers from all walks of life the chance to experience an unparalleled universe, a legend.
This will be the case on June 3 when Fabien Barthez, a GT Tour regular, will be participating in his rookie test onboard the ORECA-FLM09. He will be joined by Denis Caillon and Bruno Bazaud, former French hillclimb champion. In the sister car, Henry Richard and Duncan Ende, regulars with the Silicon Tech Dempsey Racing team in American Le Mans Series, will be crossing the Atlantic to see what they have for 13,629km track. They will be joined Steven Palette, a Peugeot Sport promotee and recent class winner at the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring.
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