After having been selected as one of the four LMP2 chassis constructors for 2017, ORECA is set for an expanded presence in North America, with the possibility of its new Oreca 05 debuting in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship next year.
The French manufacturer, which is in the process of opening an office in Charlotte, N.C., has taken an increased focus on the growing prototype market, according to Renaud Chevalier, ORECA’s North America project manager.
“We didn’t wait to be chosen as one of the four chassis manufacturers to come in the U.S. We’ve come in the past and have had much success here with the Viper and also the Peugeot at Sebring,” Chevalier told Sportscar365.
“The decision to start an office in the U.S. is really a company decision. We really think there’s more things to come here and we want to be closer to our PC customers and support teams that decide to use our P2 car in the coming years.”
While the fate of Prototype Challenge has yet to be decided, the blueprint for the FIA, ACO and IMSA’s shared prototype platform is in the process of being defined, and depending on the outcome, could result in some teams getting a jump start on 2017.
Chevalier, though, has stressed the importance of building long-term relationships with U.S. teams and not simply just selling cars.
“I think the starting point to discuss about that would be finalization of the regulations,” he said. “I’d like to see one and even some but it’s a little bit too early to talk. We need to have the regulations about the engine and bodykits and everything.
“We are not in a rush to push a car to come. We want to build something with teams on a long-term future. It’s not a matter of if we’ll have a car for the next race or the following one, it’s a matter of how many years we can view a program to be successful for the team and for ORECA.”
ORECA has been in discussions with a number of existing TUDOR Championship teams, including VisitFlorida.com Racing, which could switch to an Oreca 05 next year, depending on the outcome of the regulations.
Unlike the Ligier JS P2, which was built to the current LMP2 dimensions, the Oreca 05 is the only car that features 1900 mm width, which will become mandatory beginning in 2017.
“What we know today, and this is the way we’ve developed the car, is that mechanically, the [Oreca 05] is OK until 2020, thanks to the regulations,” Chevalier said. “We already have the [correct] width. It was one of the bigger decisions we took during the development of the car.
“This is something we know. After, depending on the decision that will be done on the bodykits, obviously there will be some changes, but it will be minor compared to other manufacturers.
“I think this is very important to the teams that if they choose an Oreca 05, they are able to have a program that will last for five years. It’s important for the budget and everything.”
TUDOR Championship teams will get their first glimpse of the Oreca 05 during the Lone Star Le Mans event at Circuit of The Americas in September, which will see up to two of the new-generation coupes in action in the FIA World Endurance Championship race.