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Catone (BR Engineering): “The BR01 is the First Real New LMP2 Car”

BR Engineering’s Paolo Catone provides update on progress of BR01…

Photo: BR Engineering

Photo: BR Engineering

Having designed the Peugeot 905 and later the 908 HDi FAP, Paolo Catone is a man of challenge. (En Français)

The Italian’s new task has been the design of the BR01 from BR Engineering, which is on track to make its debut in the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship with SMP Racing.

While the Russian-backed LMP2 project has faced recent manufacturing delays, Catone is still confident of the car breaking cover early next year, ahead of an intensive pre-season testing and development program.

“We’re doing our best to be at the rendezvous,” Catone told Endurance-Info. “It’s a bit more complicated than expected but it’s the [oddities] of building a new car. With subcontractors also working for Formula One and large manufacturers, it creates some long delays. A week late for them adds up to a three-week delay for us.

“We have a little less time for the final tests. However, the goal remains unchanged even if the period is quite short. Given the timing, it will be a big challenge for us. We will be operational in January for the assembly of the car, which will be in France.”

One of the challenges faced with the upstart BR Engineering squad, which recently relocated from Italy to the South of France, has been securing all of the necessary components for the car’s build.

“We have subcontractors scattered everywhere,” Catone said. “With Peugeot, everything was done in 365 days, not one day more. But the means [for this project] is not the same. Here, we’re not talking about LMP1.

“Human resources is also different. We had to find suppliers and coordinate everything. Building a LMP2 is less complicated than LMP1.”

While some manufacturers, such as ORECA, have opted to build prototypes around a monocoque that could be used for both LMP1 and LMP2, the BR01 has been specifically designed and optimized for LMP2 only.

“The BR01 is the first real new LMP2 car,” Catone said. “From the beginning, the project was focused on LMP2. Today we’re at 900 kg. We can’t go to LMP1-L with the same car as that should be 800 kg.

“We could redo the monocoque with zylon to save 20 or 30 kg but this is an investment in itself. I asked the customer at the beginning of the project. If we had to do both, it would be very expensive and not necessarily optimized for the other.

“If you go to LMP1, it would be with another project that would be from scratch using the knowledge that we know.”

Despite a recent increase in the sale of a cost-capped car, Catone admits the project will likely not turn a profit unless they are able to sell a significant number of cars to customers.

“With a 450,000 Euro [cost cap], a manufacturer doesn’t make money,” he said. “The only place possible is with spares. And you have to sell between eight to ten cars to start making money.

“BR Engineering hopes to sell cars but it’s not the primary goal.”

However, that hasn’t ruled out the potential of still seeing some customers cars, as SMP Racing team principal Boris Rotenberg previously revealed that they are in discussions with teams on both sides of the Atlantic.

Catone, meanwhile, confirms the BR01 has already seen significant development since the initial wind tunnel model pictures, which were released earlier this month.

“The 2015 season will serve as a learning season,” Catone said. “If the car is competitive, it will advertise itself.”

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

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Travis

    November 20, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    I think Onroak would beg to differ.

    • John Dagys

      November 20, 2014 at 2:07 pm

      The tub of the Ligier is built for LMP1 or LMP2. The BR01 has been optimized for LMP2 only – due to the weight requirements.

      • CookieMonsterFL

        November 20, 2014 at 2:33 pm

        But will that be enough to convince the very limited amount of remaining interested customers to look into it? Seems that Ligier are convincing many of their speed, Strakka like their chances, and HPD are a proven commodity. Is there room for one more LMP2 manufacturer?

        • JAGLeMans

          November 21, 2014 at 4:31 pm

          That doesn’t really matter as SMP are funding the project. They wanted their own car rather than buying one off the shelf.

      • Travis

        November 20, 2014 at 2:35 pm

        That still doesn’t change the fact the Ligier has been out and racing since June and the BR01 is still in the build stage. The BR01 is the first tub dedicated soley to LMP2 tub but not the first new LMP2 coupe. It was beaten to that by Onroak

        • jess

          November 20, 2014 at 2:42 pm

          The ligier may have more miles but it is a generic car. Our understanding is the BR car is being designed for one specific engine and drive train which if done correctly will give the car an advsntage and overcome the fact it is behind the Ligier time and mileage wise.

          • Michael A.

            November 20, 2014 at 7:23 pm

            The car is being designed to house any engine according to Boris Rotenberg from the unveiling of the concept on November 4.

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