Chrysler and Oreca to enter Prototype sports car

PARIS - DaimlerChrysler motorsports officials are looking to translate the success of the Viper GTS-R/T endurance racer into a winning program at the highest level of sports car racing with the new Chrysler Le Mans Prototype sports...

PARIS - DaimlerChrysler motorsports officials are looking to translate the success of the Viper GTS-R/T endurance racer into a winning program at the highest level of sports car racing with the new Chrysler Le Mans Prototype sports car.

Chrysler Team ORECA today announced a three-year Le Mans project that will start this season with two Mopar-powered Reynards to compete in the Le Mans Prototype (LMP) class.

PlayStation has signed a three-year sponsorship agreement with ORECA to support the Le Mans effort.

Chrysler Team ORECA will field a total of five cars at Le Mans this year. Two Mopar-powered LMPs have been entered in the prototype class and three Viper GTS R/Ts are once again engered to take part in the GTS class that the team won in both 1998 and '99.

"We are delighted to announce our participation at Le Mans this year, with both prototypes and the Vipers," said ORECA Team Director Hugues de Chaunac. "This is the first of a three-year project for the prototype, and is to be treated as a learning one with a view to outright victory in the following years."

The Viper GTS-R/T is unbeaten in endurance racing in more than a year. Its trophy case holds reminders from the 1997, '98 and '99 FIA GT2/GTS World Championships, awards from class wins at Le Mans in 1998 and '99 and the inaugural 1999 American Le Mans Series title for GTS. Biggest and brightest, though, stands the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona overall winner's trophy.

These are only the beginning of what Chrysler and its factory-backed Team ORECA hope will be an even greater and more successful worldwide endurance racing presence.

"Le Mans has become the battleground of the world's leading manufacturers," said Lou Patane, Vice President, Motorsports Operations and Mopar Performance Parts at DaimlerChrysler. "Simply put, every time our products beat those of another brand, it's another reason to be driving one of our cars, trucks or minivans, or buying a Mopar part to enhance their function or performance.

"In 2000, it is our goal to be competitive, learn at the fastest pace possible, then return in 2001 with the sole intent of winning the Le Mans 24 Hours," Patane added.

The Chrysler brand's growing presence at Le Mans is part of a strategy of international growth. The Chrysler 300M has established itself as the worldwide flagship for the brand, and triggered a complete transformation of Chrysler's passenger vehicle lineup. This includes the all-new Voyager minivan, the all-new Sebring sedan and the PT Crusier, which is turning heads, drawing rave reviews and putting our very American stamp on the product lineup around the world.

All of these products are attracting consumers worldwide who are in search of performance and luxury in an American way.

"We have enjoyed tremendous success with Viper since we started our Chrysler racing program," said Hugues de Chaunac, Director, Team ORECA. "This year we are facing some tough competition in our class and this has increased the challenge for our team. But we have the experience and the best drivers and crew in place to not only defend our titles, but build a competitive Chrysler prototype program as well."

DaimlerChrysler's Auburn Hills, Michigan-based engineers have worked with Viper Team ORECA to develop the Viper GTS-R/T into a race winner on both sides of the Atlantic. The manufacturer uses its racing programs as a platform on which to train its young engineers, develop component parts for the race track and for the road and increase brand awareness.

"Racing has become an extension of the production Viper program," said Patane. "We wanted to develop some of our young people as well as experienced ones in a fast-paced environment where they have to make quick decisions."

Engineers who have worked on the Viper GTS-R/T team are rotating to other engineering disciplines with the specific intent of bringing their expertise and understanding of advanced techniques and technologies to major Dodge production models.

The Viper GTS-R/T has been used on both sides of the ocean as a testing ground for the engine blocks, cylinder heads, transmissions, suspensions, exhaust systems and other key vehicle components. All have been tested in the toughest environments - on the track competing in 24-hour endurance races.

<pre> CHRYSLER LE MANS PROTOTYPE MOPAR ENGINE

Type 6.0-liter V-8 Construction Aluminum alloy block, Mopar aluminum heads Bore and stroke 4.1 in. x 3.3 in. (104.1mm x 83.8mm) Valve gear 2 valves per cylinder, modified Mopar crankshaft, Pushrod valve actuation with T & D rocker arms Pistons JE pistons, Carrillo rods Lubrication system Caldwell oil pump with 1 pressure and 3 scaveger stages Engine weight 375 lbs. (170kg) Engine dimensions Height 23.9 in. (60.7cm) Width 22.8 in. (57.9cm) Length 27.7 in. (70.3cm)

CHRYSLER LE MANS PROTOTYPE REYNARD CHASSIS

Chassis Carbon composite monocoque, nose box, rear chassis, bodywork Weight 1984.5 lbs. (900kg) Track 63.9 in. (1618mm) front, 63.3 in. (1602mm) rear Length 183.7 in. (4650mm) Height 41.5 in. (1050mm) Fuel Capacity 23.76 gal. (90 litres) Gearbox Reynard Gemini six-speed sequential Tyres Michelin 13x18 and 14.5x18 Brakes Brembo six-piston racing calipers front and rear Carbone Industrie 15 in. (380mm) carbon discs front Carbone Industrie 14 in. (355mm) carbon discs rear Suspension Independent double wishbone suspension with pushrod operated damper units

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Series LEMANS