The first round of FIA World Endurance Championship 2018-19 Super Season has just come to an end in Belgian Ardennes. It was a true success for ORECA Group: LM P2 winner with G-Drive Racing’s ORECA 07, first podium in LM P1 for Swiss team’s Rebellion R13, only six months after launching the project, and finally a win for Toyota Gazoo Racing to which Hugues de Chaunac’s men brought operational support. What a fantastic way to start this first ever Super Season!
ORECA 07s always in front
As the weekend started, with the free practice sessions, the ORECA 07 began demonstrating competitiveness, for its second year of competition. Throughout the three sessions, American squad DragonSpeed’s No. 31 car showed great speed, fitted with new Michelin tyres.
On Friday, during qualifying, ORECA chassis delivered superb performances, finishing in the first six places in class. A special mention goes to Team Alpine Matmut for having posted the fastest time of the session: 2.04.405.
Today, at 1.30pm, as the race kick started, the fight was on. In pole position Nicolas Lapierre and the Alpine A470 tumbled down the standings after a turbulent start. The No. 29 Dallara made the most of this opportunity and reached the first place in class just as the safety car came out because a contender had gone off track.
G-Drive Racing and DragonSpeed were racing really close behind the Italian prototype and kept fighting for the second place until the beginning of the second hour. The Russian team eventually managed to secure it before claiming the lead.
During the second hour, the No. 26 car settled comfortably in the lead, while Stéphane Richelmi on board the No. 38 completed a fantastic stint and entered the Top 3 – just like DC Racing by Jota’s sister car, which was not far behind at all. Meanwhile, Alpine caught up with the front of the race, whereas DragonSpeed moved back. Halfway through, the No. 37 temporarily replaced its sister car, which conceded the third place to Alpine.
From the third hour all the way to the end, positions remained unchanged. The No. 38 car reclaimed its position, followed by Alpine in third place. The No. 37, stuck in the pitlane during a safety car period, was fourth with TDS Racing’s car just behind it. Despite a consistent race and the best lap time, the French trio finished last in the Top 5. DragonSpeed’s car was the last ORECA to cross the finish line, despite great speed demonstrated during practice sessions.
Roman Rusinov, G-Drive Racing (No. 26 ORECA 07): “I’m really glad, it’s our first win of the season, after our disappointment in Le Castellet. We were far from being favourites in this round, but this great result now makes us want more… We’re galvanized and excited to go to the 4 Hours of Monza next week!”
The Rebellion R13 confirms its potential
As for LM P1 class, the Rebellion R13, designed and manufactured by ORECA, showed reliability all the way until the end of the race. Having started from the first and second rows of the grid, the prototypes – which have just come out of Signes’s workshops – always raced in front, fighting for second and third places. The No. 7 Toyota managed to get to the second place in the fourth hour. The No. 3 car was the third one to cross the finish line, with excellent stints completed by trio Laurent/Beche/Menezes. The No. 4 car finished just off the podium.
With operational support by ORECA, Toyota Gazoo Racing achieved a double win at this opening round.
The strong presence of ORECA Group during this intense racing weekend will continue throughout this upcoming Super Season. No doubt a thrilling one!