Olivier Beretta Q&A

Along with the Racing for Holland Dome and giant-killing MG squads, Team ORECA has proved one of Audi's closest challengers in this year's Le Mans 24 Hours. Its Judd-powered, Dallara-built cars currently lie sixth and seventh on the provisional grid for the classic French endurance race. Olivier Beretta has been with ORECA since 1996, and scored more than his fair share of success with its Chrysler Viper attacks. A multiple class winner in the past, he is now aiming for overall honours at La Sarthe with team-mates Eric Comas, his former partner at Larrousse in F1, and Pedro Lamy. Charles Bradley caught up with Beretta on the eve of the second day of qualifying

Olivier Beretta Q&A



"It was the first real test for us after the test day here in May, and we have some new parts [rear wing endplates] on the car. I think it went well. We would like to be quicker, of course, and we will try on Friday evening. On my qualifying lap I lost at least 1.5secs behind a Porsche. It's always difficult to find a clear lap here. Tonight, maybe I will find it!"



"I'm confident. We did a very good endurance test [a 28-hour run at Paul Ricard] and we have a very good package. Of course, Audi is the reference point for everyone, but I think we can achieve a good result. We finished fourth last year, and we want to improve on that. We have done everything we can with the budget available to us. We have our feet on the floor, we are not dreaming and know it will be very hard work."



"As racers, we don't wait for the others to make mistakes. Our aim is to produce a nice race and take the fight to them. If we do this, it would be great for us and the fans. For sure, Audi will be very fast, but at the same time I am also very confident because Dallara and ORECA have improved our car, and Judd has made a big step forward since last year. The whole team is very motivated to do well. Now, as you say in Britain, we must wait and see."



"It's difficult to talk about tactics and what will happen before a race. All I can say is that last year I felt the car was good enough to push really hard from the start, so I did, but I was always wondering about the gearbox, so I wasn't doing anything stupid. Everything went perfectly for us early on last year, so I hope this year will be the same, but we will have to adapt our tactics as the race progresses."



"The main weakness, I think, might be our fuel consumption, which is not a small thing at Le Mans. It's not a complaint, it's just we didn't have enough time to work on it. We have changed engine from last year, and the first target was to make it reliable. Six months is never enough time to examine every area, and that is why Audi is so strong because they have the same package for the last four years. We have not had a straight line of development like Audi has had - we have had some chicanes in the middle!"



"Exactly! Hugues [de Chaunac, ORECA's boss] has been very strong in the way he has anticipated problems and reacted to them. But you have to remember that it's harder for us because our budget is much less than our big rivals."



"No, because Stefan did a good job in testing, and it's his own decision not to race, but we're happy to have Pedro back. He's very quick, very stable and understands Le Mans very well. He's a good friend too, so I am very happy. Yesterday, in qualifying, we all drove the car and we all said the same thing afterwards to improve the set-up. This is a big, big help. You don't want one driver who likes oversteer, one who likes understeer and one who doesn't know the track very well. That's a big mess."



"No, it's very nice to be here racing in my own country. I feel quite cool about it, I know why I'm here and what I have to do. There is no more enthusiasm than at other races, when we are here we forget we are racing in France. We are concentrating on what we have to do, so we don't have any more pressure."



"Yeah [sighs] this is what I would like to do. We know Audi will be tough to beat, but you never know what will happen. We have a lot of respect for our competition, but we will be keeping our foot to the floor. We finished fourth last year, and our aim is to finish higher than that. Maybe two or three places higher..."

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