ORECA President Hugues de Chaunac said the French constructor feels “unfairly penalized” by the ACO’s ‘Joker’ updates for the Ligier, Dallara and Riley LMP2 cars and is contesting its legitimacy within the regulations.
The ACO confirmed on Saturday that three of the four LMP2 constructors will be permitted one-time evolution updates, leaving the Oreca 07 Gibson as the only car unchanged for next year.
De Chaunac argues the decision from the FIA and ACO have not been based on data from the alledged performance deficits for the Ligier JS P217 and Dallara P217, which have not raced full-time in the FIA World Endurance Championship this year.
“We disagree with these decisions and contest their legitimacy, considering the detailed analyses conducted and provided by ORECA,” de Chaunac said.
“Only European Le Mans Series races were looked at – four rounds to start with, then five. As for IMSA races, they haven’t been taken into account, which we think is regrettable.
“Contrary to technical regulations, these decisions regarding performance adjustments are not based on data evaluating performance deficits.
“As the only manufacturer not allowed to develop its car, ORECA finds itself unfairly penalized today, together with all the teams which have put their trust in us and have successfully entered the Oreca 07.”
ORECA has so far achieved the most success, both in sales and wins, with the new-for-2017 LMP2 formula, with more than 20 Oreca 07 cars having been delivered and multiple class wins in both the WEC and European Le Mans Series.
The cars showed a particular advantage at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with its low-downforce aero kit, where Orecas swept the class podium and placed five in the top six positions.
“We have to respect the fact that ORECA has done a great job and have built a great car. This is very important for us,” ACO Sporting Director Vincent Beaumesnil told Sportscar365.
“We just need to restore, for the other cars and teams, the hope to compete.”
Beaumesnil said the Joker allocation, and procedure, has all been within the rules.
“What we all know is that this year, the Oreca is a reference car; it’s the best car,” he said.
“The rule, and we have made the rules with the constructors over the last three years, it says that if some cars have a performance deficit, there is a possibility to grant an allowance to make an Evo to compensate a performance deficit.
“Based on that, some manufacturers have the possibility to ask for this Evo. Three of them have made the request.
“Obviously ORECA did not make the request because it was clear for everybody they have the best car.”
While each constructor is permitted one update in the car’s four-year homologation period, Beeaumesnil admitted “it’s not the target” for ORECA to use its Joker in the future, should the performance levels be equalized with the current allowance.
“If we would provide some Evos to these three guys to enforce ORECA, then to make another Evo because [ORECA] would be slower than them would be completely stupid,” he said. “It’s not in the spirit.
“It’s important to keep in mind that these people will have a step to be able to compete. But we don’t want ORECA to then be put in a difficult situation.
“It’s a kind of management that we have to make sure what they do on the car will not become an advantage. That’s very important.”
While Beaumesnil has refuted claims the performance updates are Balance of Performance, which is not written into the LMP2 regulations, De Chaunac sees the situation differently.
“In the early days of the project, all LMP2 players had agreed on the idea of an open competition between four chassis manufacturers sharing the same rules, with the same engine too,” De Chaunac said.
“Less than a year in, we are now moving towards a balance of performance system which has nothing to do with this original idea.
“Originally, performance evolutions were possible and clearly intended to make sure that no manufacturer facing difficulties would be left by the wayside.
“Only one of us is in this situation today,” he added, in reference to the Riley Mk. 30.