The second round of the Le Mans Series, a month before the Le Mans 24 Hours, is always a special event. This year it assumes even greater importance for the Team ORECA-Matmut-AIM as the two ORECA 01s will make their racing debut. After having tested different mechanical evolutions on the Barcelona circuit, the team is now counting on its new car.
“In Barcelona, we didn’t have our full package. Now, we’ve got our ORECA 01 which is the fruit of work we began eight months ago,” points out Hugues de Chaunac. “We can’t wait to see the times. Every day will count at Spa. We have to make a success ofpractice right from the start to obtain a good grid position, and above all tackle the race in the best possible conditions.”
Bruno Senna and Stéphane Ortelli in no.10 and Olivier Panis and Nicolas Lapierre in no.11 hope to put on a scintillating performance in the Ardennes, thanks to the new aerodynamics created by the design studio. On the very quick Spa circuit with the daunting Raidillon at Eau Rouge that really sorts out the men from the boys, the four drivers are out to make the best use of the new aerodynamics to bag another rostrum finish after Barcelona in the face of opposition from Aston Martin and above all, Peugeot.
The Spa 1000-kms race that demands both speed and reliability enables teams to fine-tune their final setups before the Le Mans 24 Hours. The team is eager to tackle the event as de Chaunac confirms: “Spa is a crucial step. It’s like a kind of semi final before Le Mans. This event will show us if we’re where we should be before THE race of the year. We’re going to find out exactly where westand in relation to our rivals. We want to make a good start with the ORECA 01. We’re going to find our marks.”
For the Spa 1000kms, the ORECA 01s will have their new livery, which will keep its references to Piet Mondrian’s paintings.
Bruno Senna (no10 ORECA 01):
“Interesting to take on Peugeot”
How does your second race with ORECA look?
“We’ve got a new car that’s simply fantastic! In Barcelona, we realised that we had to progress in certain areas. We hope toimprove our out-and-out performance with the ORECA 01. The overall finish has been upgraded, and the aerodynamics refinedright down to the tiniest detail. If our progress is as good as we think it is, we can score a great result.”
How important is this event?
“It’s capital as it’s the last one before Le Mans. Personally, I’m going to continue learning about endurance and rack up the kilometres with the new car. I’m still playing myself in with the team. We can finish on the rostrum again. It’ll be very interesting to fight against Peugeot, as we’ll see exactly how competitive we are.”
Nicolas Lapierre (no.11 ORECA 01): “Everything it takes to shine”
How are you tackling the Spa 1000kms?“In the last event we were very quick in the race. Now we’ve got the new aerodynamics, and we’re determined to finish on therostrum. Olivier and I want to put our Barcelona disappointment behind us. We’ve got everything it takes to shine.”
Do you like Spa?“I love it! Last year, we finished on the rostrum and that’s a great memory. Spa is more typical than Barcelona. Before Le Mans it’s a good circuit for a general rehearsal. We’re up against Peugeot and that’ll be a good benchmark.”
Is the last race before Le Mans a special one?“Yes, because a good result will give us a big boost before the 24 Hours. It’s important not to make any mistakes and to have a perfect weekend. The new car’s got great potential in terms of sheer speed and a bigger range of setups. We’ve made a big step forward and we must consolidate it with a good performance.”
Planet Le Mans.