Today I have the full post on the ORECA that I promised some weeks ago.
ORECA (ORganisation Exploitation Compétition Automobiles), founded in 1973 by Hugh de Chaunac and based at Magny Cour in France, has been highly successful in everything from small Formula cars to top level prototypes, and now runs Toyota Gazoo Racing’s WEC effort. This car was its first effort as a constructor, debuting as such at the Spa 1000km in 2009 after ORECA bought and absorbed the storied Courage Competition.
The 01-AIM was powered by a 650hp 5.5L AIM YS5.5 V10, developed by AIM in Japan from the famous Judd V10. The chassis utilized the monocoque of the previous Courage LC70, with ORECA developing entirely new cooling, suspension, and aero around it to reflect the latest in prototype thinking.
Le Mans 2010 looked to be another colossal battle between Audi and Peugeot, with Audi hoping to reclaim the crown they’d lost the year before. Audi would be fielding three of its updated open-top R15 TDI Pluses and Peugeot three of the latest iteration of its 908 HDi FAP, with ORECA fielding a fourth 908. But that wasn’t the only car ORECA would have in the race, this 01-AIM being the other one, the only of its type entered. It would be driven by Frenchmen Soheil Ayari, Didier Andre, and Brit Andy Meyrick for Le Mans.
In the race, the Peugeots were never really in contention for the overall win,as the Audis showed blistering pace from the outset. The Peugeots suffered a litany of problems from a broken chassis tub in two cars ( I distinctly remember how hard Davidson was hitting curbs trying to make time on the Audis) to a bad alternator, but the worst was yet to come. Later in the race, the remaining 908s all suffered turbo-related engine failures, spitting flames from the pipes and grinding to a halt. Another clear memory of this race: With all the works Peugeots out of the race, and ORECA’s 908 the only one remaining, the director of Peugeot Sport walked purposefully (and tearfully, as I recall) into the ORECA garage and pledged all their remaining resources to Hugh de Chaunac and ORECA in their fight against the Audis. A powerful moment. Sadly for that car and Peugeot, it was not to be, as it suffered the same engine failure shortly thereafter. But ORECA would have some salvation in this car...
The #6 car did not have a perfect race and found itself several laps down, but it outlasted the factory Peugeots and Lola-Aston Martins to pick up positions nonetheless. It would end up placing fourth overall behind Audi’s diesel podium sweep in what became the fastest Le Mans to date, with a distance record of 3,362.061 miles in 397 laps set by the winning Audi. Perhaps a small consolation after the loss of their 908, but a fine result nonetheless, especially considering they were an outside shot for a top 10 finish at the start, having just qualified tenth.
In 2011 the 01 would become a hybrid, powered by a 2.0L VW four cylinder, then the regulations relegated it to the history books. ORECA’s newfound construction capability would lead to the Prototype Challenge-class FLM-09, the P2-class -03, and now the stunning -05 coupe, which won P2 at Le Mans in 2015 and achieved 2nd in P2 this year.
Enjoy a brief video of its sweet V10 noise:
Have a great weekend, LALD!