Kaffer: Spa Is Another Important Step Towards Le Mans

ORECA are looking to continue their FIA WEC success at Spa as they prepare for Le Mans.

The ORECA LM P2 squads are hoping to build on a successful start to the 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship at Silverstone by challenging for victory again at Spa-Francorchamps, as they continue their progress towards their primary goal of success in June’s Le Mans 24 Hours.

The G-Drive Racing by Delta-ADR team gave the ORECA 03 chassis victory in the LM P2 class at the first round of the FIA WEC in the 6 Hours of Silverstone on April 14, the #25 machine of Tor Graves, Antonio Pizzonia and James Walker taking the spoils while the team’s second car driven by John Martin, Roman Rusinov and single-seater convert Mike Conway finished seven laps further back after a problem despite setting the fastest lap in the secondary Prototype class.

ORECA’s second squad, Pecom Racing, finished fourth in the opening race after an earlier incident thanks to a solid recovery by drivers Pierre Kaffer, Nicolas Minassian and Luis Perez Companc, but Kaffer’s mindset remains fully focused on the race that they all want to win – the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 22/23.

“Silverstone didn’t go quite how we were hoping”, admitted Kaffer. “We changed tyre manufacturers during the off season and we logically need some time to adapt to the Michelins. The variable weather conditions didn’t help us either. During the race, there was the get-together with a competitor, but the team reacted well and the mechanics came to the rescue quickly.

“There is a lot of solidarity felt in this team”, the 2004 12 Hours of Sebring winner added. “We lose together, we win together. Looking back, it was a good preparation for Le Mans. In a championship, sometimes you need a little luck and I think we came away decently with our podium finish.”

Former DTM driver Kaffer is a fan of the famous Spa circuit, and believes that the team will be well-suited to the Belgian track this weekend as he targets a podium finish once again for the Nissan-engined ORECA squad to give them the best preparation for the big event in France in June.

“Spa will be a whole other story”, continued Kaffer. “I love this track, which is long and composed of all types of corners. The track will suit us better, notably in terms of the tyres. Also, the practice and qualifying sessions are on the same day. We all know each other well, and that will be a real advantage under these conditions! There won’t be much time to react and the team’s experience will be a plus.

“We’d like to take the win, but a podium finish is our primary goal. Spa is also another important step toward Le Mans. Even we know that the LM P2 class is very competitive, we remain confident. Between Pecom Racing, the ORECA 03 which is a reliable and fast car, the Nissan motor, and the Michelin tyres, we have a very solid package to be competitive.”

Former single-seater star Martin meanwhile believes his G-Drive Racing by Delta-ADR squad will be strong again at the famous Belgian circuit this weekend, Martin having been a standout performer at the same encounter during his learning year in Prototype racing last season, saying: “We took pole position at Spa last year and I think we can do it again. I think the ORECA 03 will be even quicker at Spa than at Silverstone and it will be a great fight against our competitors. After our pace in England, we are looking for the win on a track which our drivers like and where I feel comfortable.”

The Australian says that he is still getting to learn his new team-mates, adding: “As for the driving squad, I still have to get to know my teammates. Our feeling for the car and the handling characteristics that we like are relatively close. I think that as the season progresses, we will get along better and better with Mike [Conway] and Roman [Rusinov].”

Practice and qualifying for the 6 Hours of Spa will be held on Friday, May 3, with the race scheduled for Saturday, May 4 at 1 p.m.