When ORECA began the project to build an LMP2 car for 2011 – the project that spawned the ORECA 03 – the Signes-based outfit had a big ambition; to “build the best LMP2 in the field” according to David Floury, the group's technical director.

However, even for ORECA designing a new car for the new regulations presented a challenge with the Auto Club de l'Ouest (ACO) placing cost limits on cars – “these two aims are a little contradictory, but we used our previous experience to combine them,” says Floury.

At a glance the ORECA 03 looks to share much with the ORECA 01 – the team's LMP1 car. “The ORECA 03 bears a family resemblance to the ORECA 01,” admits Floury. “There would have been no sense in starting from a blank sheet of paper for an economical car, but it will undergo specific development.”

However, Floury adds “don't always trust what you see”.

“Apart from the aero design and the monocoque everything else is different,” he expands. “We've looked at the assemblies and the subassemblies to see where we could make gains in both performance and reliability while keeping costs in mind. The suspension and gearbox are different, as is the electronic/electrics system.”

“We've got a solid working base,” says Floury referring not only to the ORECA 01, but also to the stillborn ORECA 02 design. “We're not starting from scratch. We're talking about a brand-new car in fact.”

The ACO's new rules mandate a shark fin on the engine cover

Specifics in the ACO's rules also necessitated major changes – the most obvious being the shark fin on the engine cover while Floury also points out the influence of the smaller wheels on the ORECA 03 – 12.5 inch wide front tyres and 13 inch rear tyres, both on 18 inch rims.

The car also has to be able to take any one of a number LMGT2-spec engines (several manufacturers have already confirmed their engine's availability), the designers making sure the chassis can be adapted to run with any engine a customer chooses.

“Above all, the working margin is reduced,” sums up Floury. “The evolutions are limited and the ORECA 03 will have to be competitive on circuits varying from Le Mans to the Nürburgring, so we have to find the right compromise.”

David Floury: "The ORECA 03 bears a family resemblance to the ORECA 01"

ORECA 03 Technical Specifications

Chassis (Carbonfibre and Honeycomb Monocoque)
Length : 4,600 mm
Width : 1,990 mm
Height : 1,025 mm
Front track : 1,670 mm
Rear track : 1,650 mm
Wheelbase : 2,870 mm
Weight : about 900 kg

Engine: Free choice, producing about 460bhp

Suspension: Pushrod with double steel wishbones

Gearbox: Xtrac Six-speed sequential

Brakes: Brembo
Front discs: 380mm x 37mm
Rear discs: 355mm x 37mm

Price: €345,000