French sportscar constructor ORECA has revealed plans to develop a hybrid rally raid prototype to contest the Dakar Rally in 2023.
In partnership with the SMG team and working out of ORECA’s Magny-Cours base, the project has already commenced, with the team aiming to have a car on the road at the end of its initial development phase in April next year.
ORECA is following in the paths of several teams as the Dakar and the Amaury Sport Organisation-backed Rally Raid World Championship moves towards alternative energy regulations from 2024, in pursuing new technologies for cross-country rallying.
Audi is the biggest name to adopt these new regulations and will mark its Dakar début next month with its electric RS Q e-tron. Prodrive’s Bahrain Raid Xtreme and Guerlain Chicherit’s GCK teams will use biofuel for 2022, with the latter developing a hydrogen powered car for 2024.
“ORECA is a company which has always challenged itself: to offer a competitive car with technologies that are being developed and to put these solutions into the hands of the clients, whether semi-official or private, in order to achieve the best performance on the Dakar,” said Vincent Garreau, the Client and Project Manager of ORECA.
“We have a great playground to express ourselves. For us, it was essential to be part of that, to be part of the future.
“The goal was to be able to give an answer in the short and medium to all these clients to participate in the Dakar.
“The major motorsport disciplines use hybrids. In endurance racing, we’re hybrids, the WRC is hybrid, Formula One is hybrid. We must have a hybrid solution for rally raid that makes sense over these distances.”
ORECA’s car will be driven by a standard combustion engine, working in turn with a hybrid system, featuring a MGU energy recovery unit which the team believe can help reduce emissions in half while maintaining the same level of performance on the stages.
“The choice we made was to make a hybrid car, it’s the combustion engine that will drive the car, so from that point of view, it’s quite classic,” explained Team SMG’s Philippe Gache.
“And then, there will be an E-machine which will bring more torque and power, so we have a thermal engine which is modest, a small turbo four-cylinder.
“So, the goal is to make a car that is competitive as much as the 100% combustion-engine powered cars today, but consumes half as much gas quite simply. So, equal performance and half the emissions.”
The roadmap for ORECA, which has made its name primarily in circuit racing through sportscars and single seaters – winning back-to-back FIA GT titles in 1997 and 1998 – has been laid out with a view to finishing the first phase of its testing regime by April in 2022.
“We are in the pure design phase of the car with the objective of having the whole car finished by the end of the year and to have a car on the road at the beginning of April 2022,” Garreau says.
“A series of tests will follow, the goal being to have a high-performance car for the 2023 Dakar.
“The level of power of this vehicle will be on the combustion part, it will be around 200 horsepower. And we will have an electric motor, an MGU which will be able to bring up to 80kW maximum. That’s for power, and I would say 110 Nm/t.”
As well as an established motorsport team ORECA has also been one of the main chassis providers in the World Endurance Championship in recent years and served all 10 of the teams in LMP2 during the 2020/21 season.
It has also fielded cars in the French touring cars and the European Rally Championship, where it was instrumental in bringing the R4-K cars into ERC2 ahead of the 2019 season.