ORECA has set its sights on the ‘Hypercar’ platform, with the French constructor in the early stages of investigating a customer program that could come online during the 2020-21 FIA World Endurance Championship season.
The FIA and ACO’s yet-to-be-named top class has continued to gather interest among some manufacturers and constructors, with ORECA technical director David Floury revealing that Hypercar design and technical studies are already underway.
Sportscar365 understands that Rebellion Racing, which currently utilizes ORECA-built Rebellion R13 chassis in the LMP1 class, has been in dialogue on the project and is likely the leading candidate.
Floury has given high praise to the regulations, which were released in draft form in December, although with details still to be finalized in the coming months.
“I think the regulations are quite appealing,” he told Sportscar365. “It’s for sure decreasing the costs relative to what factory LMP1 was the last few years.
“From a private team perspective, it’s definitely going to increase the costs a bit but still there is scope to develop something.
“Clearly on our side, we’ve kicked off some studies to investigate on the technical side in order to not wait until we have commitments and a project signed. The target is to be ready.”
While still being “very early” to expect a commitment from a team such as Rebellion, Floury indicated that an alignment with a low-volume sports car or supercar builder would be the ideal path.
Under the regulations, both bespoke and production-based powertrains will be permitted, and with designs not needing to be tied to a specific road-going model.
“Including the fact that a private team like Rebellion, we could make a joint venture with a small supercar manufacturer to do a common effort to join the series,” Floury said.
Floury, however, admitted such a program would not likely be ready in time for the start of the 2020-21 season, even if an official go-ahead is made in the coming weeks.
A number of manufacturers have voiced similar concerns on the aggressive launch timeframe.
“The first year seems quite challenging, to say the least,” Floury said.
“It seems more and more unrealistic to enter, at least at the start of the first season. Maybe over the course of the season would be possible.”
LMP1 Non-Hybrids Likely to be Grandfathered
Floury believes the FIA and ACO will be left with “no choice” but to grandfather existing LMP1 non-hybrids into the new-look category for the launch season, due to the expected low initial car count.
While both Glickenhaus and ByKolles have laid out plans to build Hypercars, a large-volume manufacturer has yet to formally commit for 2021-22, although confirmation is expected shortly from Toyota.
“At the moment it’s not fully clear but I think there will be no choice [but to grandfather],” Floury said. “There will not be that many new cars as I think the timing is challenging.
“If there seems to be strong interest from many OEM manufacturers, the timing to enter the first year is too challenging and most of them have not committed yet.
“I think it would be necessary to have some kind of grandfathering to make sure there are enough cars on the grid.”
ACO President Pierre Fillon has strongly hinted some form of grandfathering will likely occur, at least for the launch season.