ORECA is working to potentially provide a LMP1 option to customers for the 2018/19 FIA World Endurance Championship season, although it is waiting on key elements of the non-hybrid regulations to be clarified before giving the green light, according to technical director David Floury.
The news comes in the wake of the WEC’s decision to consolidate LMP1 hybrid and non-hybrid prototypes into a single classification next year, through an Equivalency of Technology formula, although few details have emerged on how it will be exactly achieved.
Customer options for LMP1 have been limited thus far, with only Ginetta and Dallara/BR Engineering making its new-for-2018 car publicly available.
“Clearly, as a race car constructor, we’d like to do it. But we have to tick a few boxes before we can really commit,” Floury told Sportscar365.
“The main issue is the timeframe. If you are talking about 2018, the timing is very challenging already.
“We have many requests from potential customers to look into that. Obviously we are also involved with Toyota, so we need to see carefully how we approach this.
“But it also depends on what’s going to happen generally next year. At the moment there’s a lot of uncertainty. One of the main points is that we don’t have technical regulations.”
With a proposal for upgraded LMP2 cars, dubbed LMP2+, having been shot down, Floury said the only realistic option of being on the LMP1 grid next year would be with an all-new car, but utilizing existing components.
Time constraints would not allow ORECA to build an all-new tub, for instance, with the monocoque from its Oreca 07, which is built to LMP1 regulations, to be used for the proposed project.
While having designed and built the Rebellion R-One, which ran from 2014-16, Floury indicated they wouldn’t necessary use components from that car.
“For sure it doesn’t leave the time realistically to do a complete new car,” he said.
“On the other hand, we already have a baseline and don’t need to redesign everything. It’s a matter of building a new car with some of the components carried over from existing cars and projects, along with some new components.”
Floury said they’ve already been in discussions with potential engine suppliers and said the LMP1 project would only feature a single powerplant option, also because of the timing.
A decision on whether or not to go ahead with the car, which could be called the Oreca 09, would need to be made by the end of the month.
“I think it’s going to be difficult to have confirmed customers [at the time of committing to the project] but for sure to go ahead, we need to have a good understanding of [what] the market could be,” Floury said.
“I don’t think we can wait until we have firm orders to go for it, otherwise we wouldn’t have any time to do a proper project.
“The idea is not just to do a car to fill the grid. If we do it, we’ll try to do it in the proper way.”
The biggest holdup so far, Floury said, has been the lack of information on the revised LMP1 regulations.
While FIA and ACO tech chiefs have indicated that the non-hybrid regulations would remain unchanged for next year, questions remain how the cars will be made to match the performance levels of LMP1 hybrids, which will reportedly remain untouched.
“We cannot commit if we don’t have more visibility on where the future will be,” Floury said.
“There’s also a question mark on how long this car would be eligible. Is it only 2018/19, is it longer term? Depending on who you discuss with, you have different answers. It doesn’t help committing to it.”