ORECA has abandoned plans to build a Le Mans Hypercar, even if Peugeot ends up opting to go with the FIA and ACO’s platform for its planned World Endurance Championship program with Rebellion Racing in 2022.
The French constructor, which has been in talks with Peugeot to become the technical partner for the program, has instead placed its full focus on IMSA and the ACO’s new global LMDh formula according to ORECA president Hugues de Chaunac.
“From the ORECA side, we’re going to focus completely on the global platform, which means we will not work on a Hypercar project. We cannot do everything,” de Chaunac said.
“At the moment I think the choice is easy. All of the OEMs have real budget problems because they’re investing a lot in electric and green [technology], etc.
“It’s very difficult for the racing people to come to the board because it’s not a top priority. So if it’s a low budget, it’s much easier and I think for a new car manufacturer coming in today, it’s the only attractive way. It’s a big advantage.”
Announced on Friday, the new joint IMSA-ACO platform will be eligible in the WEC beginning with the 2021-22 season and starting in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2022.
While budget targets have not yet been disclosed by the sanctioning bodies, it’s understood to be significantly less than the initial Hypercar formula, which will remain eligible in WEC through 2026.
“The big problem is the budget,” de Chaunac said. “If you do a Hypercar it’s high budget. If you do a global platform it’s a lower budget.
“I think to be attractive today for a car manufacturer, they’re asking two questions: Can my car win Le Mans and Daytona? Yes. Is the budget much lower than Hypercar? Yes.”
ORECA technical director David Floury confirmed that the company had undertaken feasibility studies last year on a Hypercar, as well as some conceptual aero work on what’s believed to have been for Peugeot.
While LMDh is believed to be ticking “quite a few boxes” for Peugeot, both Floury and de Chaunac said they cannot comment on which direction the manufacturer will take.
“This announcement has been done at the moment where Peugeot is thinking which way they have to do,” de Chaunac said.
“They’re working on the Hypercar project. Besides that, for the new OEMs coming, for sure they want to have the global platform.
“We have enough discussion and contact at the moment to see the interests coming from the OEMs.
“I’m sure in the coming months, before June, that you will have one or two or three announcements.”
De Chaunac and Floury declined to confirm how many LMDh projects ORECA could accommodate, indicating they would rather focus on quality over quantity.
ORECA will be one of one of four constructors that will be permitted to build LMDh chassis around a new survival cell that will accommodate hybrid systems and a larger fuel tank than currently seen on the LMP2-based chassis.
“For sure being based on a cost-capped LMP2 it will reduce the costs quite significantly while it’s global so with the same car you can win in Daytona, Sebring, Le Mans and in WeatherTech and WEC makes it a very good investment for the OEMs,” Floury added.