Oreca is looking to add to the trophy collection in 2017

If you’re at all familiar with the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) or the 24 Hours of Le Mans, odds are you’ve heard the name “Oreca” before. Also known as the Organisation Exploitation Competition Automobiles, Oreca is a French race team headed by former F1 team manager Hugues de Chaunac. Founded in 1973, Oreca is best known for developing and producing top-shelf racers for the LMP2 category, providing a winning platform for a number of teams from a variety of different nations. Oreca’s latest effort is dubbed the 07, offered as an upgrade over the outgoing 05 model, coinciding with rule changes for the 2017 season. The new car is now headed to Le Mans, where Oreca hopes to clinch yet another class win thanks to improved aerodynamics, more power, and a tweaked chassis.

Oreca Technology’s Director, David Flourey, describes the 07 LMP2 as the “furthest-developed prototype to date, the one on which we have made the least compromises possible.” At its core, the 07 is essentially an Oreca 5, which isn’t a bad thing when you consider the 05 took top honors in the LMP2 category at Le Mans for the last two events running. The 05 was also the first closed-cockpit racer to bear the Oreca name, and considering this isn’t historic racing, it’s time to evolve the breed. As such, Oreca is promising even higher levels of performance and greater reliability with the 07. So far, things are looking up for 2017. Read on for the details.

Continue reading to learn more about the Oreca 07 LMP2.

Exterior

2017 Oreca 07 LMP2
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Given the preceding 05 model was Oreca’s first closed-cockpit racer, it makes sense that one of the 07’s primary areas of concentration was to improve the aerodynamics. Adding a roof changes quite a bit to the way atmosphere flows over a car, and at a track like the Circuit de La Sarthe, getting the right balance between downforce and drag is critical to success.

As such, Oreca says it managed to add extra grip while simultaneously increasing aero efficiency. The whole package is 100 percent functional, with zero consideration paid to aesthetics – just as it should be on a winning race car. Oreca used its in-house aero experts and a suite of CFD (computational fluid dynamics) tools to get it just right, with the final bodywork constructed using carbon-kevlar with light lamination baked in Oreca’s autoclave.

Compared to the 05, Oreca says the 07 adds extra grip while simultaneously increasing aero efficiency. The whole package is 100 percent functional, with zero consideration paid to aesthetics.

And although the 07 is very much its own model, the 05 still provided just the right bones for success. “For [the 05 prototype] we took into consideration most of what we knew of the 2017 technical rules at the time,” says David Floury, Oreca’s Technical Director. “That’s why the Oreca 05 was conceived with a width of 1,900 mm, instead of the 2,000 mm permitted by the current rules. This choice did affect the car’s performance, particularly on winding racetracks, but still was a good decision considering the overall scope of the project.”

Length: 4,745 mm (186.8 inches)
Width: 1,895 mm (74.6 inches)
Height: 1,045 mm (41.1 inches)
Front track: 1,570 mm (61.8 inches)
Rear track: 1,550 mm (61 inches)
Wheelbase: 3,005 mm (118.3 inches)

Interior

2017 Oreca 07 LMP2
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Crawl inside the cockpit of this monster, and it’s all business. Drivers are strapped into what basically amounts to a carbon fiber cocoon, with very limited space to move around. A single carbon fiber bucket is mounted off center, with the driver placed slightly to the left of the middle line. The steering wheel is a rectangular affair and also made from carbon fiber, with a huge amount of buttons and knobs spread across its surface, including adjustments for the aero and traction control, as well as buttons for the radio, windshield wiper, pit control, and engine shut off. The wheel also houses a small LCD screen to relay critical info, such as coolant temperature, oil pressure, and the current selected gear. Above the screen sits a series of lights providing the appropriate shift points.

2017 Oreca 07 LMP2
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Crawl inside the cockpit of this monster, and it’s all business. Drivers are strapped into what basically amounts to a carbon fiber cocoon, with very limited space to move around.

Immediately to the right of the wheel is a secondary button panel with even more buttons. The seating position is extremely low, and visibility is limited at best, with forward visibility hampered even further due to the vertical windshield wiper and various antenna arrays. A rectangular vent on the dash keeps cockpit air circulation going during extended stints.

In terms of safety, drivers are held in place by a six-point racing harness, plus the requisite HANS safety device. Finally, a rubber fuel tank is mounted in an appropriately protected location to keep the explodey juice safely contained should there be an incident with something less movable than the car.

Drivetrain

2017 Oreca 07 LMP2
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The preceding Oreca 05 LMP2 model produced roughly 490 horsepower, with a variety of different engine choices offered to competitors. One of the more popular choices included the Nissan-derived VK45DE, a naturally aspirated 4.5-liter V-8. This year, the Oreca 07 gets a rather sizable power boost up to 603 horsepower, which is a massive 113-horse increase over the preceding 05 lump.

All that extra oomph is provided by a standard-spec naturally aspirated V-8 from U.K.-based engine manufacturer Gibson Technology, the same company that produced the successful VK45 powerplant from yesteryear. Gibson was locked in as the engine provider for the LMP2 class until 2020, with all competitors using the same lump going forward till that date.

2017 Oreca 07 LMP2
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Providing the power is a standard-spec naturally aspirated V-8 from U.K.-based engine manufacturer Gibson Technology, the same company that produced the successful VK45 powerplant from yesteryear. Peak output for 2017 is rated at 603 horsepower.

Designated as the Gibson GK-428, the new engine spec includes 4.2 liters of displacement and eight cylinders arranged in a 90-degree bank configuration. Redline is set at a dizzying 9,000 rpm. Standout features include a dry sump / staged oil pump system for lubrication, while Cosworth is employed for the electronic engine control unit.

Sending the power to the rear axle is a six-speed sequential gearbox (plus one reverse gear) from Xtrac, the same set-up that was used on the Oreca 05. Drivers swap cogs via steering wheel-mounted shift paddles and a pneumatic shift system.

Chassis And Suspension

2017 Oreca 07 LMP2
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In case it wasn’t already obvious, Oreca manufactures its own chassis in-house. That made the transition between the 05 and 07 a relatively straightforward process overall, despite the huge requirements of development for the new rules spec.

“The Oreca 07 was conceived around the Oreca 05’s monocoque and shares a certain number of the 05’s mechanical components,” says Floury. “The ideas was to build on the success and the quality of the Oreca 05 while developing performance. Our concept was to design a completely new car around a base of existing components thus allowing the teams who own an Oreca 05 to update it to the 07, but trying to control the cost of conversion.”

2017 Oreca 07 LMP2
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The 07 uses much of the older 05’s monocoque chassis, constructed using carbon fiber and honeycomb modules for superior rigidity and weight savings. Managing the mass is a double-wishbone suspension set-up with pushrod-style dampers.

As such, the 07 uses much of the older 05’s monocoque chassis, constructed using carbon fiber and honeycomb modules for superior rigidity and weight savings. Speaking of weight, it should come as no surprise that Oreca went to great lengths to keep mass to a minimum, with the final figuring looking like 930 kg (2,050 pounds) per the new LMP2 regulations. It should also be noted that number is 30 kg (roughly 66 pounds) more than the 05 model, once again, per regulations.

Managing the mass is a double-wishbone suspension set-up with pushrod-style dampers. PKM Consulting was tapped to provide the adjustable shocks. Making it grip are gummy racing slicks measuring in at 30-68/R18 in front and 31-71/R18 in the rear. The wheels are ultra-light units measuring in at 12.5 inches in width and 18 inches in diameter for the front, while the rears are wider at 13 inches across and 18 inches in diameter. Finally, the brakes use ventilated carbon discs and 6-pot monobloc calipers.

Conclusion

2017 Oreca 07 LMP2
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While this year’s big race in France has yet to be etched into the history books, the Oreca 07 has already accumulated an impressive record of achievements for the 2017 race season, including top performances at the 4 Hours of Monza (G-Drive Racing, Rojas/Hirakawa/Roussel), 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (G-Drive Racing, Rusinov/Thiriet/Lynn), and 6 Hours of Silverstone (Jackie Chan DC Racing, Tung/Jarvis/Laurent). Further accomplishments include pole positions at the 12 Hours of Sebring (Rebellion Racing), 4 Hours of Silverstone ELMS (DragonSpeed), 6 Hours of Silverstone, 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps FIA WEC (G-Drive Racing), and 4 Hours of Monza (Graff Racing).

For now, Oreca looks like it’s shaping up to be the dominant force at Le Mans in LMP2. Tune in next week to see where it lands when the checkered flies.

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