Entered in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, World Endurance Championship and European Le Mans Series by several private teams, the ORECA 03 « 2012 » completed its first tests Thursday and Friday. It was a positive session with the prototype from Signes performing according to expectations, in both pure performance and reliability. Soheil Ayari was on driving duty for these two days of intense testing.
The ORECA engineers used the track time to validate studies conducted in the off season. For the first time, the ORECA 03 was equipped with the 2012 evolutions : new requirements per the rules – shark fin, openings above the wheels – but also aerodynamic and mechanical improvements. « The tests were very positive, » said David Floury, Technical Director of Groupe ORECA. « We obtained good results on all levels. They are what were were expecting : it’s nice to confirm a theory in practice. We still have a few new items looking to optimize the reliability and the pure performance. »
Soheil Ayari, who took part in the development of the ORECA 01 LMP1 and ORECA 03 LMP2 « 2011 », ran lap after lap at the controls of the 2012 version. « The car immediately handled well, » said the Frenchman. « Despite the constant changes to the rules, the car is still very balanced, with a very stable aerodynamic package. In a global sense, the car actually improved from last year. The ORECA 03 still has its intrinsic qualities : it’s very quick in the fast corners. I spent a lot of time behind the wheel : the two days were productive and it was a great pleasure ! »
Soheil Ayari and the ORECA development team tested various aero configurations, with the goal of locking in the « Le Mans » kit. Work was also done on the traction control and on the mechanical side, notably the suspension. The new engine management system also seems to be an added value, particularly in terms of functionality. Three other ORECA 03 powered by the Nissan V8 took to the track, run by ADR-Delta, Pecom Racing and Thiriet by TDS Racing.
« In addition to the development, these were two days benefiting the customer racing program, » said David Floury. « To be side by side with the three teams during their first steps with the 2012 configuration was a good thing. This allows us to exchange a maximum of information and give advice if needed. All the teams are close in performance. This is what we were hoping for so we are satisfied. This test allows us to go into the season with a lot of motivation. »
Several Formula Le Mans were also present during the tests at the Paul Ricard circuit. Many drivers, coming from single-seaters, GT or other disciplines, took turns at the wheel of the ORECA-FLM09 in order to discover the world of endurance racing. All of the drivers underlined the performance of the car which, aside from an ease of adjustment from the car, gives the true sensations of a Le Mans Prototype.
The entire ORECA Customer Racing Program was on hand to begin an exciting season in the world of Le Mans-style racing, both in LMP2 and LMPC.