French constructor ORECA is getting closer to bringing its brand-new 05 P2 chassis from the digital realm to the real world, according to company founder Hugues de Chaunac. The defending World Endurance Championship P2 title winners have recorded remarkable success with their open-top 03 chassis since its introduction in 2011, but with the P2 class moving toward closed-top cars, the 05 (ABOVE) was commissioned as its successor.
De Chaunac says with the WEC season now finished, celebrations complete on the P2 championship won by SMP Racing, the LMP1-L championship won with the ORECA-penned Rebellion R-One, and the honors ORECA received for the significant role it played in Toyota’s P1 crown, he hopes the 05 will add to the company’s momentum.
“We have been really busy; we have had a great 2014 year with the 03 chassis, the R-ONE and with Toyota Racing, and now we look forward to the new ORECA 05 coupe,” de Chaunac told RACER. “We had great success with the 03 and won so many races in the WEC, and the target for the 05 is not to match the 03, but to be even better. The 05 will not be our first closed car; the Rebellion [R-ONE] is closed, and this is the basis for where we started with the 05.”
Pleased with the performance of the R-ONE, ORECA has incorporated one key component from their P1-L design for the 05.
“The monocoque will be the same as the Rebellion (RIGHT); it is very safe, very light and very strong,” de Chaunac continued. “Everything else will be different because of the regulations, and we are very confident in the new car. We will have some cars racing in the WEC next year, and we are building between four and five cars to start the season. The first car is scheduled to test later in February.”
ORECA director of technology David Floury told RACER the 05’s design phase is almost complete.
“The design is now pretty much complete. We are finishing some detail designing, have started manufacturing, and completing the last items on the aero,” he said. “All of the big components are fully defined and into production.”
Building around the R-ONE tub design allowed Floury’s team to achieve the expected aerodynamic improvements over the 03 while surpassing the safety requirements in P2.
“It’s a step forward; there are significant advances on the aero side; the car will be significantly lighter than the 03 which will allow teams to place ballast and play with weight distribution, and we have updated some of the things we were not happy with on the 03. For example, we switched the power steering from hydraulic to electric, which is much better in terms of reliability and for drivers to adjust the level of assist.
“The starter motor is new; the gearbox is a new design – it is compact, the cooling will be improved as well. Driveline installation is better than the 03. And safety is better. We kept the Zylon panels on the side of the chassis to improve cockpit intrusion. We also have a rear crash structure; it isn’t mandatory in LMP2, but we want to make the safest car, and it is compliant with the LMP1 level.”
Floury says with the restricted costs and regulations surrounding P2, the 05’s suspension design will be an evolution of what is found on the 03 (LEFT) and R-ONE.
“There’s some carryover from the hubs and wheel bearings; all of those components have been calculated to the loads for the 05 and we don’t expect any issues on the first rollout,” he explained. “We did not do any different concepts that were not proven on the 03 and the R-ONE, which are very reliable and very successful, and we concentrate mainly on improving these areas with detail items and to save weight. The idea was not to invent anything, but to use proven concepts and work on improving every aspect to gain performance.”
ORECA’s goal is to develop the car next year in the WEC against the new coupes from Ligier and HPD, and then turn their attention to making the 05 available for sale in the U.S.
“We want to have the 05 perfectly ready for 2016 for the TUDOR Championship,” de Chaunac said. “We know the DPs will stop at the end of 2016, and we think there will be some teams looking to continue with a top product for the next year. For me, it’s a very exciting project and one that ORECA will make big investments in America to make this happen.”