ORECA has revealed that it walked away from Peugeot’s Le Mans Hypercar program the day the LMDh formula was announced.
The French constructor, which had been in negotiations to design, build and operate the brand’s top-class prototype with funding from Rebellion Racing, withdrew from the discussions late last month, according to company founder and president Hugues de Chaunac.
It has reportedly led to Peugeot’s new link-up with Ligier Automotive, which was confirmed by Groupe PSA Motorsport director Jean-Marc Finot on Thursday in the French press.
De Chaunac explained that Peugeot’s persistence of remaining on the path of developing a Le Mans Hypercar, which ORECA ruled out, instead of the more cost effective joint IMSA-ACO LMDh platform, led to the breakdown of talks.
It came despite ORECA having undertaken feasibility studies and conceptual aero work with the French automaker last year.
“After LMDh was announced in Daytona, I informed Peugeot that we would not be working on the Le Mans Hypercar project,” de Chaunac told Endurance-Info.
“ORECA will focus on the LMDh. ORECA has therefore withdrawn from discussions with Peugeot and from all calls. The withdrawal was made the same evening of the LMDh’s announcement. ORECA puts all its strength on LMDh.
“We were the ones who warned Peugeot. However, we were ready to continue if Peugeot wanted go to LMDh.”
Peugeot’s Finot, meanwhile, told French publication L’Équipe that a decision on the car’s platform will not be taken until technical details of LMDh and the Balance of Performance method the FIA and ACO will utilize between LMH and LMDh have been finalized.
De Chaunac: LMDh Offers “50 Percent” Cost Savings to LMH
ORECA’s focus to serve LMDh-only manufacturers has been made largely on the grounds of costs, according to de Chaunac, who believes the more affordable option will deliver additional brands to the grid.
“The announcement made at Daytona is generating a lot of interest from manufacturers in Europe and the U.S.,” he said. “The interest is really important and there are four reasons for this.
“First, it will be possible to win Le Mans and Daytona with the same car.
“Second, the budget has been cut significantly, which is about 50 percent less than the Le Mans Hypercar category.
“Third, the hybrid system will be common, so no further development is needed.
“And fourth, it will be possible to have a car reminding the style of the brand without spending big on design and aero since there will be a Balance of Performance.
“The manufacturers’ approach is clear.
“Currently, a manufacturer who wins in GTE cannot have the full page of a media but only 1/10th of page ten. For the board of manufacturers, LMDh is clearly interesting.”
Interest from “At Least” Four Manufacturers for LMDh
De Chaunac said ORECA has received interest from “at least” four different manufacturers in recent weeks for LMDh projects.
“I can just confirm that we are talking with at least four manufacturers from Europe/U.S. It’s not impossible that an Asian brand will be added to this list in the coming weeks,” he said.
“Congratulations to IMSA and the ACO for making this decision. This announcement [gives great momentum] for endurance racing.”
Laurent Mercier contributed to this report