France’s Thomas Vareliette talks passion for racing and success with ORECA

When Thomas Vareliette went to his first Formula 1 race as a child, he was instantly in awe of the technology behind making those cars zoom past him. Growing up in Toulon in the south of France, he was constantly reading racing technology books, trying to understand just how to build a vehicle with such speed. It sparked a passion in him which has never wavered to this day.

Now, Vareliette is living his childhood dream. As an electrical harness designer and systems engineer, he is an integral part of any project he takes on, converting ideas, values, words, sketches, and diagrams into the best electrical products by connecting electronics units, sensors, and loads together. He has used his vast talent, knowledge and experience to help create extremely fast motorsport vehicles that so inspired him as a child, including the Toyota Supra GT4, the BR01 LMP2, a sports car that competed in the FIA World Endurance Championship, the iconic European Le Mans Series and IMSA and the ORECA 03 LMP2 racing car with Signatech Nissan for the 2012 World Endurance Championship. 

“Looking at how fast the Formula 1 teams develop new cars every year and bring crazy design ideas to life is super exciting. A lot of people do not realize the complexity of those cars and the ultra-fast development process it takes to bring new updates at every race weekend. Seeing those cars running at limits lap after lap is fascinating and inspiring as an engineer,” said Vareliette.

Vareliette spent some of the earlier parts of his career working with ORECA as a Track Support Engineer for Electrical Systems and Engines for all of ORECA’s drivers in the ELMS (European Le Man Series) 2013 and WEC (World Endurance Championship) 2013. At the time Signatech Nissan’s future was uncertain and ORECA’s growing need for customer support was in demand; the managers of ORECA knew they needed the highest caliber of talent helping engineer their vehicles and solve any technical issues as they arose, so they naturally offered Vareliette the opportunity to join their teams to contribute to the success of the 2013 season.

“I loved that every ORECA customer had such a large amount of trust in me. I was able to travel around Europe doing what I loved most,” recalled Vareliette.

During every race weekend, Vareliette was supporting and guiding the teams to perform their tasks in the optimal conditions. He had to help teams from all over the world (American, English, Russian, Malaysian, European). His work consisted of the preparation, maintenance, and supervision of vehicles during race weekends, and his previous experience working on Signatech Nissan’s ORECA 03 LMP2 allowed him to know the ins and outs of the company and its customers. It also allowed him to speedily remain composed and efficient whenever a car encountered a problem. If a driver ran into an issue on the track, he was there to solve it but also to teach the driver how to solve that problem on their own in the future to avoid adding unnecessary time to their race. Two of the teams, ADR and G-drive, asked for reinforced track support during the entire season. Vareliette successfully contributed to their performance by improving car reliability, electrical systems, engine performance and better traction control tuning per track.

Vareliette was also in charge of the engine warm-up of all the vehicles before each session and the proper functioning of the engines, gearboxes and electrical systems. After each session, he produced reports on its progress accompanied by a mileage report and a report on the various problems encountered by the teams. The confidence gained by the customers from these reports allowed them to work in optimal conditions and succeed in their mission: winning the race and the championship.

During the 2013 World Endurance Championship, out of the 8 races that qualified for the championship, 6 were won by ORECA customers thanks to Vareliette’s efforts. This project in 2013 was ORECA’s flagship program, and it allowed them to relaunch their motorsports branch. Even though he was not behind the wheel, Vareliette was absolutely integral to this success. Seeing his hard work speed past him on the racetrack of those renowned championships was immensely rewarding.

“The success encountered on each racing weekend was amazing. There is such a sense of pride in the results achieved. Knowing that many victories are linked to my expertise is very gratifying and makes me proud to this day,” he concluded.

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