ORECA’s customer racing program manager is excited by the “different profiles” of LMDh program evaluations that have been brought to the table by potential manufacturers.
Anthony Megevand, who is responsible for ORECA’s customer relations, told Sportscar365 that the French company remains in discussions with several prospective LMDh manufacturers that are coming in with a varied set of approaches and needs.
This comes despite the platform being built on a cost-limiting premise that includes measures such as a choice of four base chassis providers and a spec hybrid system.
Megevand explained that interest remains high in LMDh and that he is optimistic of all four chassis constructors being represented on the grid in the coming years.
“The interest is still there, maybe more,” he said. “I think we don’t have any OEMs that have stopped their interest in LMDh which is good.
“There are also new OEMs coming in the talks. From one to another, some are more pushy or interested to do it. And they want to do it earlier than expected. Some are taking more time, but clearly I think there will be a strong field both in 2023 and 2024.
“I think it’s good for sports car racing in general, but also for the four LMP2 manufacturers. I am sure that there will be OEMs with ORECA, Dallara, Multimatic and Onroak [Ligier].
“Some OEMs are looking at this class, maybe not all of them. But it’s really interesting and they have different profiles. Some are interested by WEC, some by IMSA and some by both.
“Some are factory efforts, and some are customer efforts. So I’m really looking forward because we are having opportunities in sports car racing that we haven’t had since the GT1 era. It’s really exciting.”
Megevand explained that the process of guiding prospective LMDh manufacturers through their evaluations varies significantly.
“It’s quite open and different from one OEM to another,” he said.
“Sometimes OEMs contact us and say they are interested in LMDh. Sometimes we contact them and say it’s a good product for them. That’s the first step.
“Then it’s different approaches of philosophies. Some OEMs are clearly first focused on performance, and some on styling. Which is interesting because it’s two different exercises.
“In any case, you need to have a good car. But it’s an exchange, a discussion between the OEM and us to see where we put the limit on the style to be good enough.
“I would say it’s always easier to start with pure performance because you have more freedom. Overall the first goal is to have the best car in terms of performance, but everybody likes beautiful cars.
“We always try to keep a good-looking car in mind. I think LMDh is good for that. DPi was the first step, but I think with LMDh we can make one or two steps more.
“This is what I think is interesting because on the studies we are making, clearly you can recognize the brand. This is good for the OEMs, and also for the fans and media.”
According to Megevand, ORECA has multiple OEM investigations currently sitting at an advanced stage.
ORECA is understood to be in line to supply the base chassis for the Acura LMDh project, however the Honda brand has yet to make an official announcement.
“We already have one OEM contacted,” said Megevand. “And yes, we have discussions that are good and moving in the way we expected.”
“Careful” Approach Needed for Future LMP2 Costs
Megevand added that the cost of running an LMP2 car will need to be carefully considered in the formula’s upcoming regulations refresh that is due to take place after next year.
Several teams have recently joined LMP2 with a view to entering LMDh, which will be eligible for the FIA World Endurance Championship Hypercar class and IMSA.
Megevand reckons that beyond the upward movement of those teams, LMP2 is likely to retain its Pro-Am character and therefore needs to avoid any changes that might increase spending.
“One thing we need to keep in mind is the cost of the car and running costs,” he said.
“I think we will have some teams from LMP2 that will go to LMDh. But not everyone. We still have some teams coming to LMP2 from GT, LMP3 and single-seaters.
“So in any case, I think LMP2 will stay a good step before going to the top class. Even if some teams are going to LMDh, then we will have to convince other teams that want to grow.
“This is a good thing in the ACO-IMSA ladder. Currently you have GT, LMP3, LMP2 and Hypercar/LMDh and it’s working quite good.
“But the main thing is that we need to be careful on the cost of this formula.
“I think we are also seeing that IMSA is doing quite a good thing with the Bronze driver [rule]. I am not saying that a Bronze has to be mandatory in Europe, but in IMSA they are really enjoying their time and I think a Pro-Am class in Europe is also a good step.
“I would say I’m pretty confident, but we still have to be careful on this.”