August 1, 2021

ARC Bratislava ditches Ligier chassis for Oreca for Le Mans

Until now, the Slovakian squad had been one of just two teams planning to use the Ligier JS P217-Gibson for the rescheduled centrepiece FIA World Endurance Championship race on August 21-22.

But the team has now revealed it will be instead campaigning the dominant Oreca 07 chassis at Le Mans, following a difficult start to the WEC season with the only Ligier in the field.

It leaves Racing Team India as the only Ligier user left on the entry list for the French classic, up against 24 Orecas (two of which are rebranded as Aurus 01s by the Russian G-Drive Racing outfit) in the LMP2 division.

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Team owner-driver Miro Konopka, who will be contesting Le Mans for the fifth time, said: “After the race in the Algarve [the Portimao 8 Hours], it was clear to us that it would be very difficult or even impossible to complete a 24-hour race with Ligier, without technical support from the factory. 

“So we had to start dealing with this situation very quickly. Fortunately, we succeeded.”

Konopka will be joined at the wheel of the #44 Oreca at Le Mans by ex-ByKolles LMP1 driver Oliver Webb, who drove for the team at Portimao, and his son Matej, who will be making his debut for the squad later this month in the WEC’s Monza round.

The 59-year-old admitted he had been looking for another funded driver to fill the seat alongside himself and Webb, but ultimately opted to give 30-year-old Konopka Jr – who has experience in the 24H Series and Lamborghini Super Trofeo – a chance.

“This year I also tried to get another paying driver in the car to join me and Oliver, but given the performance of the Ligier this season, it was very difficult,” said Konopka. “And if someone has to drive with us without a budget, I would rather give a chance to someone from Slovakia. 

“My [son] Matej has been showing for a long time that he has matured as a driver. And somehow I would like to symbolically pass on the torch to the younger generation.”

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