Lapierre tops Ricard test for ORECA

Former GP2 and A1GP race winner Nicolas Lapierre topped the times for the French ORECA team in the second session of the official Le Mans Series test at Paul Ricard

Lapierre tops Ricard test for ORECA

Lapierre set a best time of 1:42.442 on the full Ricard track at the wheel of the number one AIM-engined Courage-ORECA he will share with ex-Formula One driver Olivier Panis in this year's LMS.

His time was just over one second quicker than the second best time recorded by Tomas Enge shortly before he crashed and seriously damaged the lead Lola-Aston Martin.

The two Courage-ORECAs LMP1s are running to 2008 aerodynamic regulations rather than this year's rules, which call for a smaller rear wing in all dimensions. ORECA boss Hugues de Chaunac insisted that this did not give them any advantage in comparison to their P1 rivals at Ricard.

"Everyone else is doing the same times as last year with their new aero packages," he said. "We have worked very hard in the wind-tunnel and we know what we can do with the small wing."

The two Courage-ORECAs will run the smaller rear wing in the LMS opener at Barcelona at the beginning of April. However, it is unclear if either car will have ORECA's definitive 2009 aero package at the Spanish race.

"Maybe we will have one car ready, it is not sure at the moment," said de Chaunac, who described his 2009 Le Mans challenger as "all-new apart from the monocoque and the gearbox".

Danny Watts ended up third fastest in the afternoon session aboard the Strakka Ginetta-Zytek 09S/1 LMP1. The Briton's 1:43.551 narrowly shaded Bruno Senna's 1:43.650 in the second Courage-ORECA.

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