The French ORECA team's new LMP1 challenger showed its colors in first practice for Sunday's Spa round of the Le Mans Series.
Nicolas Lapierre topped the times in the AIM-engined ORECA 01 during an inconclusive opening session interrupted by rain and two red flags. The Frenchman, who shares the team's lead car with Olivier Panis, set a best time of 1m06.740s, which was subsequently equalled by the best of the Peugeot 908 HDis.
ORECA boss Hugues de Chaunac was encouraged by the pace of his new car, which retains nothing from last year's Courage-ORECA apart from the monocoque and the gearbox, in both wet and dry conditions.
"It was very encouraging, but we we have to be careful because we only had 20 minutes dry running at the start," he said. "What we saw afterwards in the wet was just as encouraging. Olivier [Panis] and Bruno [Senna] were consistently the fastest drivers on the circuit.
"This shows our car is well born," he continued. "You mustn't forget that we have really only had two days of testing before we came here."
RML Lola driver Tommy Erdos was one of the few drivers to improve as a dry line emerged right at the end of the 90-minute session. His 2m11.920s was a second and a half quicker than Fernando Rees in the Barazi Epsilon Zytek.
Peter Kox topped the GT1 times in the Reiter-run Lamborghini Murcielago, while Andrea Montermini was fastest in GT2 aboard one of the Farnbacher Ferrari 430 GTs.