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ORECA Feels “Unfairly Penalized” in LMP2 Joker Allowances

ORECA contesting ACO’s announced LMP2 ‘joker’ updates…

Photo: DPPI/ORECA

ORECA President Hugues de Chaunac said the French constructor feels “unfairly penalized” by the ACO’s ‘Joker’ updates for the Ligier, Dallara and Riley LMP2 cars and is contesting its legitimacy within the regulations.

The ACO confirmed on Saturday that three of the four LMP2 constructors will be permitted one-time evolution updates, leaving the Oreca 07 Gibson as the only car unchanged for next year.

De Chaunac argues the decision from the FIA and ACO have not been based on data from the alledged performance deficits for the Ligier JS P217 and Dallara P217, which have not raced full-time in the FIA World Endurance Championship this year.

“We disagree with these decisions and contest their legitimacy, considering the detailed analyses conducted and provided by ORECA,” de Chaunac said.

“Only European Le Mans Series races were looked at – four rounds to start with, then five. As for IMSA races, they haven’t been taken into account, which we think is regrettable.

“Contrary to technical regulations, these decisions regarding performance adjustments are not based on data evaluating performance deficits.

“As the only manufacturer not allowed to develop its car, ORECA finds itself unfairly penalized today, together with all the teams which have put their trust in us and have successfully entered the Oreca 07.”

ORECA has so far achieved the most success, both in sales and wins, with the new-for-2017 LMP2 formula, with more than 20 Oreca 07 cars having been delivered and multiple class wins in both the WEC and European Le Mans Series. 

The cars showed a particular advantage at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with its low-downforce aero kit, where Orecas swept the class podium and placed five in the top six positions. 

“We have to respect the fact that ORECA has done a great job and have built a great car. This is very important for us,” ACO Sporting Director Vincent Beaumesnil told Sportscar365.

“We just need to restore, for the other cars and teams, the hope to compete.”

Beaumesnil said the Joker allocation, and procedure, has all been within the rules.

“What we all know is that this year, the Oreca is a reference car; it’s the best car,” he said.

“The rule, and we have made the rules with the constructors over the last three years, it says that if some cars have a performance deficit, there is a possibility to grant an allowance to make an Evo to compensate a performance deficit.

“Based on that, some manufacturers have the possibility to ask for this Evo. Three of them have made the request.

“Obviously ORECA did not make the request because it was clear for everybody they have the best car.”

While each constructor is permitted one update in the car’s four-year homologation period, Beeaumesnil admitted “it’s not the target” for ORECA to use its Joker in the future, should the performance levels be equalized with the current allowance.

“If we would provide some Evos to these three guys to enforce ORECA, then to make another Evo because [ORECA] would be slower than them would be completely stupid,” he said. “It’s not in the spirit.

“It’s important to keep in mind that these people will have a step to be able to compete. But we don’t want ORECA to then be put in a difficult situation.

“It’s a kind of management that we have to make sure what they do on the car will not become an advantage. That’s very important.”

While Beaumesnil has refuted claims the performance updates are Balance of Performance, which is not written into the LMP2 regulations, De Chaunac sees the situation differently.

“In the early days of the project, all LMP2 players had agreed on the idea of an open competition between four chassis manufacturers sharing the same rules, with the same engine too,” De Chaunac said.

“Less than a year in, we are now moving towards a balance of performance system which has nothing to do with this original idea.

“Originally, performance evolutions were possible and clearly intended to make sure that no manufacturer facing difficulties would be left by the wayside.

“Only one of us is in this situation today,” he added, in reference to the Riley Mk. 30.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. vanillachinchilla

    October 16, 2017 at 1:14 am

    this. is exactly why this ruleset is dumb.

    • AudiTT

      October 16, 2017 at 8:05 am

      There are four constructors, so with no other competition, a re-evaluation was always planned.

      The regs are set for four years.

      They each have one joker update if they have a performance deficit. Low downforce pace was an issue for Ligier and Dallara, while Riley needed a more substantial update.

      The result should be all four constructors have equally competitive cars on both low and high downforce circuits.

      • vanillachinchilla

        October 16, 2017 at 7:24 pm

        key word should* – but there will always be a winner and loser in these systems. indycar had this issue too. problem is once the grid is set and cars are homologated youre stuck with it.

    • Matt

      October 17, 2017 at 12:08 pm

      P2 should’ve never been changed from the previous format besides adding power. These narrow track cars are more aero dependent and have less mechanical grip.

  2. Anonymous

    October 16, 2017 at 4:28 am

    The manufacturers should have just been allowed to update the cars when they wanted. And the ACO/FIA should have seen this coming!

    But as we are stuck with these rules for the foreseeable future I call this Sour Grapes on Oreca’s part. Oreca should only complain properly if Ligier, Dallara and Riley become more competitive than Oreca.

    • Group C

      October 16, 2017 at 7:44 am

      “The manufacturers should have just been allowed to update the cars when they wanted”

      But in this way teams would be forced to install constantly updating kits to their cars, making the costs explode and giving an unfair advantage to the richest teams, which would be the only to have the car fully competitive.

  3. John

    October 16, 2017 at 4:42 am

    ORECA’s complaint is understandable, especially if their claims about the data/evaluation process is true. (At least IMSA hauls all the cars into the wind tunnel and does an objective analysis.)

    But, at the same time, the ACO clearly considers P2 a mostly spec class where all the competitors must be equalized.

    P1 is supposed to be the class for open competition, but given their hurt feelings, I doubt ORECA is going to bust their butts to build a P1 car if the ACO comes asking for help fleshing out the options for the class.

    • AudiTT

      October 16, 2017 at 8:08 am

      Oreca are in this to sell cars and make money.

      They make good money on the LMP2 and they’ll make good money on their new LMP1.

  4. Group C

    October 16, 2017 at 7:40 am

    Mr. de Chaunac forgets that the LMP2 category of the WEC is an “Oreca Cup”…

  5. Kurt

    October 16, 2017 at 7:55 am

    Wasn’t ORECA the only manufacturer permitted to build the last gen car to the new chassis rules? I get where they’re coming from, but we still have no idea what these updates are (ie whole car? Or ligier and Dallara are only allowed new dive planes?). Also, financially ORECA is still winning by a landslide.
    The ACO got a spec class with a French manufacturer, it’s easy to manage. IMSA went for content, but a headache for the series to manage. I think the fans win more on the latter, currently.

    • Matt

      October 16, 2017 at 12:22 pm

      Honestly, IMSA is did an amazing job managing the prototypes this year. Every car always had a shot to win, besides the Dallara. WTR happened to be significantly better than any other team, making it seem like the Caddy was favored by the BoP. Daytona it was, but the rest of the season was fair.

      • Max

        October 16, 2017 at 5:14 pm

        Since the Sprint Aero Kit for the standard Dallara had a front aero imbalance, I do wonder if the Cadillac’s mandated wicker and increased rear wing angle actually balanced them out for the rest of the year.

    • Max

      October 16, 2017 at 5:12 pm

      They took advantage of the same rules as everyone else.

      When the ACO made the updated closed cockpit P2 specs in 2014 you could build your car to old LMP1/LMP2 (200cm) or new LMP1 (190cm) width. No matter how wide the car was, the tub had to follow the LMP1 crash test spec. There were also early hints that manufacturers would be allowed to make an Upgrade kit to get to the 2017 spec. Well with those rules it was pretty obvious that the future rules would require essentially an LMP1 width car and if you did your homework you’d be able to roll all that development forward.

      Oreca built the R-One to the narrower LMP1 spec and then carried it into the ’05. OnRoak built the JS-P2 to the old P1 specs originally but never found a P1 buyer (http://johndagys.wpengine.com/lemans/wec/ligier-js-p2-revealed/). From there the future was pretty much set since Oreca was the only maker in position to do that. The ARX-03 and BR-01 were also LMP1 width and could have done the same thing should they have become eligible manufacturers for the current rules.

  6. fernando martins

    October 16, 2017 at 9:23 am

    I don’t like to see a “spec” class anymore than you guys. I think that all manufacturers should be allowed one update per year, with a cost cap (100K for the first year, 50K for the second and 25K for year 3). No updates for year 4. this would force everyone to concentrate where they are weak, and the best engineers would come out on top. Everyone had the opportunity to make a good car, some invested more than others, people went in different ways, and now we do have a car that’s superior. Oreca, Ligier and Dallara have the same “know-how” and expertise. I was surprised to see Riley awarded a spot. But in my view, it is unfair to restrict Oreca for doing a better job. It has to be understood that the skill level of drivers makes a difference. When Oliver Pla gets in the Ligier in IMSA races, the thing flies! and laps within 100’s of the Dallara/Caddy’s and what not! But the Dallara Caddy’s have been penalized and the Ligier has had BOP breaks. Is this fair?

    • thomas

      October 17, 2017 at 3:38 am

      The Ligier has had no BOP breaks. There is no BOP for the LMP2 cars.

  7. David Chaste

    October 16, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    IMSA allows the LMP2 cars to adjust suspension tunning, ecu mapping, and gearing ratios, maybe other even other things. So that makes it so if a rebellion came and had their gearing ratios wrong a Ligier that was perfectly tuned good out lap them. So in IMSA even the Riley could have a shot when others did not do their homework.

    So the p2’s have more of a shot in IMSA against an oreca than in the ELMS.

    But everything is set in the ELMS and the WEC, to reduce costs.

    Oreca is complaining because they are supposed to. But they know they have a cozier relationship with the ACO than everyone else. That’s why all the WEC teams picked them because they knew Oreca’s previous car was already compliant with the 2017 P2 rules.

    The Ligier JS P2 came out in 2014, but the Oreca 05 being built in 2015, gave it an advantage because the 2017 rules were already made so they made it compliant with the new rules and simply had to refine it for the Oreca 07. Some teams can even change their 05 cars into Oreca 07 with body modifications.

  8. TF110

    October 16, 2017 at 1:19 pm

    Oreca crying because there might be other options to customers besides them. The Oreca is popular because it is the fastest lmp2-spec car. They had a year’s head start with the Oreca 05 running close to this year’s rules. Now they’re upset others get to match their pace in a class that’s supposed to be equal in the first place? lol at that!

  9. JD

    October 16, 2017 at 1:37 pm

    Wait, I’m confused. According to the ACO, ORECA was the only chassis manufacturer who didn’t apply for a joker update and now they’re mad because everyone else applied and got one?

    It sounds like they were hoping the ACO would reject upgrades for everyone else and maintain their advantage.

    • Travis McBee

      October 16, 2017 at 4:41 pm

      It’s not that they didn’t apply for one, the ACO told them that they weren’t allowed to joker upgrade their car. The other three chassis are joker upgrading to match the performance on the Oreca as it is the baseline, and best of the 4 chassis.

  10. Frustrated Again

    October 16, 2017 at 10:40 pm

    The FIA is a fucking joke.

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