ORECA superior in Estoril

The ORECA LM P2 chassis showed its quality at the finale of the European Le Mans Series, as Sébastien Loeb Racing took victory in the 4 Hours of Estoril, the 21st LM P2 category win for the chassis.

There was more success to be had in the Teams rankings, as Signatech-Alpine took the title after Nelson Panciatici, Paul-Loup Chatin and Oliver Webb pushed the Alpine A450b, designed and built by Oreca, to glory.

To add further credence to the chassis, this year’s achievements make it the third consecutive year that a team racing with an ORECA chassis won a title in the ELMS.

The success is also shared with the engine department, based in Magny-Cours, and is in charge of the preparation of the Sébastien Loeb Racing’s and the Signatech-Alpine’s V8 Nissans.

The three year run began back in March 2011 as Signatech’s team was the first one to shine with the ORECA 03. At Sebring, there was a pole position followed by a podium.

A few months later, the squad won the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup. Last year, Philippe Sinault’s team achieved Drivers’ and Teams’ titles in the ELMS with the Alpine 450.

This year, “les bleus” managed to keep their titles, following on from a season that saw a win, two podiums and two appearances in the top five.

However the final race was a tough one for Panciatici, Chatin and Webb. Starting third on the grid, then moving quickly up to second, the trio were in the lead of the 4 Hours of Estoril on many occasions but unfortunately saw two penalties later on.

With a fifth-place finish for the Alpine A450b, Signatech-Alpine still managed to clinch the two titles in play.

“I am very happy and very proud of the great job the team did,” said Philippe Sinault, Team Principal. “Defending a title is a difficult thing. Therefore it’s all the more satisfying to see that we’ve been able to maintain ourselves as leaders on the European scene.”

Whether under the names of ORECA 03 and 03R or Alpine A450 and A450b, last weekend marked a 21st win for the ORECA LM P2 chassis. A new team had a taste of victory in Estoril, the Sébastien Loeb Racing team.

With duo Vincent Capillaire and Jimmy Eriksson, Sébastien Loeb and Dominique Heintz’s team delivered an excellent performance.

Sixth on the grid, the ORECA 03R No.24 gathered momentum as the race went on thanks to a strong strategy combined with no errors allowing the Alsace-based team to win for the first time ever in the series.

“We’ve always won a race each season in every car that we’ve run, so it was very important for us to win in LM P2 also,” said Technical Director Léo Thomas. “This is a great achievement as we’ve now claimed victory in every category we’ve raced in. I am very proud of the team. This is the perfect end to our season.”

With a fourth-place finish in Estoril, Race Performance ended the season ranked fifth in the championship. Irish squad Murphy Prototypes crossed the finish line in sixth place in Portugal, posting the fastest lap of the race, showing once again how competitive the ORECA 03R is.

“After this ELMS’s final race, we cannot but be happy,” admitted ORECA’s Director Hugues de Chaunac. “The championship has been keenly contested. Therefore, we are very proud of our customer team’s results. Our prototype has been successful on practically all racetracks on all continents, defending the colours of many different squads.”