why does the Oreca 07 dominate the LMP2s so much?

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Do you know many racing cars produced in 100 copies? At the end of May, the tricolor brand Oreca delivered during a small ceremony the hundredth chassis of its 07, queen of the LMP2 category*. The machine will participate in the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2022 for the Cool Racing team. By way of comparison, the Porsche factory produced 93 units of its legendary 962, yet omnipresent on the endurance planet in the second half of the 1980s.

This figure is all the more remarkable as Oreca is a young manufacturer: the brand only designed and assembled its first vehicle in 2009after the acquisition of the know-how of the craftsman Yves Courage. “We hadn’t anticipated such enthusiasm for the Oreca 07 at all,” explains Hugues de Chaunac, founder and boss of Oreca. At the start, in 2017, we were four manufacturers appointed by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest and the International Automobile Federation to manufacture the cars used in LMP2. Assuming that we could each share a quarter of the cars produced, our objective was to have a 30-35% market share”.

The prototypes being fixed for five years by regulation, this represented a potential of around thirty 07 chassis. Five years later, Oreca has a virtual monopoly.

Origins of LMP1

In the beginning, there was a somewhat urgent order. At the end of 2013, the Swiss team Rebellion – which raced in the premier LMP1 category – had just lost its chassis supplier. The old British house Lola had gone bankrupt. The telephone rang at Signes, where the Oreca 03 had already been created, a rather convincing LMP2 barquette. ” We have designed and developed the Rebellion R-One in six months rewinds Christophe Guibbal, director of the design office. This prototype finished in fourth place in its first 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2014.

At the time, the men and women of the Var builder were also working on the creation of a new closed-body LMP2. “We managed to negotiate the use of the tooling to make the 05”, explains Christophe Guibbal. The budget to create the new car is tight. “There were a lot of carry over from the Rebellion R-One to the 05, then to the 07″, confirms the engineer. The Rebellion hull is still present on the current LMP2, eight years later. The 05 was a success: the KCMG team won its class at the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans.

In 2017, the more powerful V8 Gibson is imposed on all competitors. Thus was born the current Oreca 07. It was the last of the new generation LMP2s to take to the track for its debugging, in the hands of Nicolas Lapierre, on the Paul-Ricard circuit. Worrying? “It was voluntary, corrects Christophe Giubbal, with an accent from Aveyron, we renewed already reliable technologies such as the hull, the steering, the hub system, to save time spent on the systems. We focused on the aero rather than the mechanical part. We thought that was where we had the best return on investment.”

Homogeneity

The recipe works. “At the time, in endurance racing, there was a fashion for high muzzles, open front bonnets…explains the machine’s father. We mostly have sought to make a homogeneous car, at ease in traffic, not very sensitive to windage and which did not concentrate all its performance in a straight line“. The most observant Le Mans spectators may remember the exceptional top speeds (up to 347 km/h), but also the cantankerous nature of the rival Dallara P217. A real problem in a category where seasoned professionals, young hopefuls and gentlemen drivers live side by side. “One of the great strengths of this car is that it has a wide operating and usage windowsummarizes Christophe Guibbal, author of the 07 with David Floury. Reliable from the outset, the car also won over the teams with the accessibility of the parts to be replaced and the care taken with the wiring…

Orders quickly poured in. After Signatech or Jota, Oreca even won over Ligier’s preferred team, United Autosport. At Signes, we had to strengthen ourselves. Right next to the furnaces producing the carbon parts, the assembly workshop brings together a handful of specialists. Count 300 hours of work to assemble a 07.

” In general, for the last week, we bring in one or two mechanics from the client team, including the car manager“, explains Julien Bardon, responsible for the assembly of the LMP2 unit, “this allows us to advise and supervise”. Oreca can “come out” one chassis per month and the order book is full. If you sign the check today, you will receive your car in twelve months. And since we are talking (big) under: “the selling price of the new, complete car, without the single single engine or all the homologated electronic equipment, must not exceed €483,000“, specifies article 1.2 of the LMP2 technical regulations published by the International Automobile Federation. Air conditioning is optional, capped at 7,000 euros by the same text.

Last strong point of the 07: the after-sales service. “On the circuits, we have a truck to supply parts, but it’s a minimum,” confides Hugues de Chaunac. We always have 6 to 8 people working in our customers’ boxes. to know the needs, anticipate, maintain contact. This customer support is costing us money and would be easy to cut, but we don’t want to reduce it. Ultimately, we know that for the same car, they will prefer to work with us rather than with another manufacturer”.

A strategic point. Because a new LMP2 category will see the light of day in 2025. Like its competitors, Oreca will start from scratch for a new certification cycle… with the advantage of reputation. “It’s like in football, when you always finish among the first six in your championship, analyzes Hugues de Chaunac. This car gave Oreca critical size and legitimacy. We are in the top tier of motorsport. Builders come to us because they know what they’re going to find here”. What if this was the best victory for the Oreca 07?

A remarkable track record

  • 100 frames built
  • Undefeated since 2017 in the World Endurance Championship
  • Victory in LMP2 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2017, 18*, 19*, 20 and 21
  • 2nd place overall in 2017 (Jackie Chan DC Racing / Tung-Laurent-Jarvis)
  • Podiums at the 24 Hours for derived LMP1s (Rebellion R13, Alpine A480)

* under the name Alpine

Technical sheet

  • Oreca 07 (since 2017)
  • Chassis: carbon shell and bodywork
  • Length.xwidth.xhigh. (m): 4.74 x 1.89 x 1.04
  • Wheelbase (m): 3.00
  • Weight (kg): 930
  • Suspensions: double wishbones with pushers
  • Brakes: ventilated carbon discs, 6-piston monobloc calipers
  • Engine: Gibson GK428 90° V8, naturally aspirated, limited to 9,000 rpm, 4,200 cc
  • Transmission: to the rear wheels, transverse X-Trac gearbox, paddles on the steering wheel, pneumatic controls, 6 gears + reverse gear
  • Power (hp): 603
  • Torque (Nm): 555
  • Tank (l): 75

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