Team ORECA’s 2010 gets under way this weekend with two days of testing in advance of next week’s Petit Le Mans powered by MAZDA6. Team boss Hugues de Chaunac, who knows a thing or two when it comes to winning races in the American Le Mans Series, is sending an AIM-powered ORECA 01 prototype to contest the 1,000-mile/10-hour endurance classic at Road Atlanta. The outing serves as the first step in ORECA’s program for next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“We have decided to do the race because Petit Le Mans is one of the key races to have the best possible preparation for the Le Mans 24 Hours,” said de Chaunac, who oversaw Viper Team ORECA’s GTS victory in the 1999 race. “We are going to learn a lot. The track is difficult. The level of the competition is very high with all our competitors. The fight will be hard and the pressure will be great. But we are upbeat to come to this race and to compete in P1.”
During its two years running the factory Viper program, ORECA set up shop at Road Atlanta, and a number of the team members from those days remain with de Chaunac for ORECA’s long-awaited return stateside.
Past Petit Le Mans race-winner and three-time LMP2 champion Romain Dumas will join ORECA regulars Olivier Panis and Nicolas Lapierre – the latter two coming off a victory in the final Le Mans Series race last weekend at England’s Silverstone 1,000K. The competition at Road Atlanta will undoubtedly be more challenging with entries from Acura, Audi and Peugeot, among others.
“It helps because it is always better to come in as a winner!” de Chaunac said. “We have a very good performance level with our car. We are learning from one race to another race. Silverstone was very tough with Aston Martin and it was good to beat them. We are very realistic and not arriving at Road Atlanta as a potential winner. We have a lot of motivation but we are staying realistic against Peugeot, Audi and Acura. By fighting them, we are going to learn much more. After this race, we will be better than before.”
The 12th annual Petit Le Mans powered by MAZDA6 is Saturday, September 26. The Series’ cornerstone event at Road Atlanta in Braselton Ga., is a 1,000-mile/10-hour endurance classic. The green flag is scheduled for 11:15 a.m. ET with SPEED airing live television coverage starting at 11 a.m. ET. American Le Mans Radio presented by Porsche and Living Timing & Scoring will be available on Racehub at americanlemans.com. Live coverage also can be heard on Sirius 126 and XM 242. You can follow the Series on Twitter (almsnotes).
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