ORECA’s Hugues de Chaunac doesn’t anticipate a large presence of DPis on the grid for next year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, with a number of prospective manufacturers still yet to formally commit to IMSA’s new prototype platform.
De Chaunac, whose company has been in discussions with five different OEMs, said time is running out in order to fully design and develop the bodywork and engine packages for the start of the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.
“I don’t see many manufacturers in ’17 because I think everyone is [evaluating],” De Chaunac told Sportscar365. “We hope to have some agreements before September, which means that it would be to prepare the car for mid-’17 but not for Daytona.
“I think it’s starting to be too late to have a DPi car, in the new regulations, for Daytona. It would be more for [later] in the 2017 season.
“I think the interest is there, but for the moment it’s more requests of information.
“At the moment we prefer to say that we need a little more time in order to do a good test program in April, May  and to start to compete in August, September and to be fully ready in Daytona in 2018.”
While ORECA has yet to receive a formal commitment from a manufacturer, De Chaunac is optimistic about the long-term future of the platform, despite some technical differences between DPi and LMP2-spec machinery.
“IMSA expressed that they want GT3 engines with their own electronics. They didn’t ask if we agree or not; it was fact,” he said.
“We’re just following the rules and we’re not saying anything more. It’s part of the game.”
Progress continues to be made on the Oreca 07, which will serve as the French constructor’s new global-spec LMP2 car, as well as the base for any potential Oreca DPi offering.
De Chaunac anticipates on-track testing, with the spec Gibson engine, to begin in late September.
“The progress is going well,” he said. “We’re not starting from a white sheet of paper. We have a good base. Everyone says the [Oreca] 05 is a good base. So we’re progressing well.
“We need to do a top car because we have to keep in mind that this will be the same car for four years. So you cannot miss the start.”
The car, based off the Oreca 05, will feature a number of mechanical changes, primally around the engine compartment, as well as all-new bodywork.
De Chaunac said existing Oreca 05 teams will be able to purchase an upgrade kit, with the price of the kit yet to be determined.
“From outside it will be a new car,” he said. “The monocoque will stay the same but the outside, it’s a completely new car. It will be a real change.”
As for the U.S. market, De Chaunac said he’s hopeful of seeing multiple Oreca 07 cars on the grid next year and is prepared to expand its level of support accordingly.
He said the company currently has an office at CORE autosport’s headquarters in Rock Hill, S.C., near Charlotte, with a dedicated staff member who attends all WeatherTech SportsCar Championship races.