Winner at Sebring this year with a customer Peugeot prototype, veteran French sports car squad ORECA is set to have a factory affiliation of its own for 2012. Hugues de Chaunac's team has been selected to partner with Toyota Motorsport GmbH, which announced its return to Le Mans with an all-new LMP1 prototype earlier this month. ORECA "will provide operations support for the project," according to the announcement.
In recent years, ORECA has been one of the few privateers to rival the works teams from Peugeot and Audi, most notably at Sebring this past March, where it won Mobil 1 Twelve Hours, and at Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta a few weeks ago, were it finished second with a customer Peugeot.
The Toyota LMP1 chassis has been designed, developed and built at TMG's technical center in Cologne, Germany. The prototype will be powered by a gasoline engine equipped with hybrid technology, provided by Toyota Motor Corporation. ORECA will support the TMG track operations team and this partnership will begin in the coming weeks. The Toyota is expected to contest several rounds of the new World Endurance Championship in addition to the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“It's a very big day for ORECA," declared de Chaunac. "To be chosen by Toyota Motorsport GmbH is a huge reward for the work we've done in recent years. ORECA has proven its worth at the highest level of endurance racing, winning the 12 Hours of Sebring in 2011 and finishing three straight times in the top 5 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Thanks to its know how, ORECA now has the opportunity to work with the biggest automobile manufacturer, and on a project that's particularly interesting. We are proud to support Toyota Motorsport GmbH in this challenge and we're looking forward to an exciting future.”
Rob Leupen, director of business operations, for TMG, added, “This is clearly good news for TMG. ORECA's competence and track record are well known, which is why we were very keen to develop a relationship with them. They will enhance our track operations team as we make progress in the world of endurance racing.”