ACO Announces Upgrade Breaks for ORECA rivals, ORECA hit back at Decision

by Paul Hensby

The Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) has revealed that LMP2 constructors Ligier, Dallara and Riley/Multimatic will be allowed to upgrade their chassis ahead of the 2018 season so to reduce the apparent pace deficit they have compared to the ORECA 07 chassis.

However, this decision has been criticized by the ORECA Group, who have effectively had their own development programme frozen to allow their rivals to catch up.

Although nothing has been decided on what can be developed, the ACO believes allowing ORECA’s rivals to develop their chassis should mean a closer LMP2 field in 2018.

“The ACO and the FIA have made clear to the different protagonists the rules and objectives of these modifications: namely, to maintain the competitiveness of the three constructors in relation to ORECA in 2018 without, however, giving one of them a consistent advantage compared with the benchmark car,” read the ACO Statement on Saturday.

“The ultimate aim is to ensure that LMP2 remains a category in which variety and hotly-contested racing prevail.”

As the only manufacturer not allowed to update or upgrade their chassis, the ORECA Group have hit back at the decision, disagreeing wholeheartedly that the decision from the ACO is unfair and unjust.

Hugues de Chaunac, the President of ORECA Group, believes the ACO and FIA should have consulted with ORECA before making the decision, and because of their lack of communication, they are disappointed with the news, especially as it only seems to take into account European Le Mans Series races, rather than all of the series’ that ORECA race with their 07 chassis including the FIA World Endurance Championship and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

“ORECA Group acknowledges ACO and FIA’s decisions, and though we’ve been informed, more dialogue and consultation would have been appreciated,” said de Chaunac. “We disagree with these decisions and contest their legitimacy, considering the detailed analyses conducted and provided by ORECA.

“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 penalised today, together with all the teams which have put their trust in us and have successfully entered the ORECA 07. We would like to express our support to them.”

De Chaunac also points out that the apparent balancing of performance was not meant to be a part of the LMP2 class, and by hindering any development of the ORECA chassis, it goes against the spirit of the category.

“In the early days of the project, all LM P2 players had agreed on the idea of an open competition between four chassis manufacturers sharing the same rules, with the same engine too,” said de Chaunac.  “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.”

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