United Autosports ORECA switch could impact IMSA LMP2 class

United Autosports' decision to switch from Ligier to ORECA ahead of the 2019/20 FIA World Endurance Championship season could not just impact the Anglo-American outfit's relationship with Ligier, but also the LMP2 class in the IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship.

The British based team, who are stepping up to WEC for the upcoming season, were originally supposed to run with a Ligier JSP217-Gibson before the team announced a surprise switch to ORECA machinery last week. United Autosports has used Ligier machinery at Le Mans, in IMSA and in the European Le Mans Series over the last few years.

In response to the switch, Ligier decided to terminate the distribution agreement it had with the team, with Ligier Automotive President Jacques Nicolet stating: “Since 2016, United Autosports in its role as Ligier UK has represented the Ligier make in the United Kingdom, handled the distribution and the after-sales service of Ligier racing cars and participated in several events like the Autosport International Show and the recent Goodwood Festival of Speed for Ligier’s 50th anniversary."

“We would like to thank Zak Brown and Richard Dean and the whole United Autosports team for this three-year partnership. Our ways are parting concerning the distribution of Ligier products, but as a racing car constructor we will continue to accompany and support United Autosports and their Ligiers as we do for all the other race teams.”

United Autosport will continue to use Ligier machinery in ELMS and Michelin Le Mans Cup for the foreseeable future, but has decided to purchase a number of ORECA chassis as it prepares to step up to WEC. It is believed that the team has purchased three cars, with two meant for WEC and a third for a European test program.

The purchase of these three cars could up end affecting the LMP2 class in the IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship. Two of the three purchased cars are the ex-JDC Miller Motorsports cars which it ran last year before switching to Cadillac DPi machinery. 

A third car was ordered brand new and is understood to originally have been PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports' second car. In correspondence with Motorsport Week, the Fresno-based outfit have confirmed that the chassis was originally their second chassis, but that the team decided to aid United Autosports by making the car available to them. The team also stated that they would likely still have a second car later in the year 'as Oreca will be replacing that car with another new one in the very near future,' the team said. The Californian outfit currently is one of only two teams running in the class, with Performance Tech Motorsports being the other.