Chrysler LMP unveiled at Barcelona

Chrysler's LMP Le Mans challenger was unveiled at the Barcelona Grand Prix circuit on Tuesday by Team ORECA president Hugues de Chaunac and Chrysler Europe president Stephen Landry. The silver-on-grey car is new from end to end, the chassis...

Chrysler's LMP Le Mans challenger was unveiled at the Barcelona Grand Prix circuit on Tuesday by Team ORECA president Hugues de Chaunac and Chrysler Europe president Stephen Landry. The silver-on-grey car is new from end to end, the chassis designed and built by Gian Paulo Dallara's company in Parma, Italy, and is powered by a virtually new Mopar V8 engine which is redesigned to work as a stressed construction member.

Dallara already had a basic chassis design worked out before the link-up with ORECA gave the model a final push. "We had some ideas from the wind tunnel, we have Le Mans experience but not much track experience" says Pignacca. Dallara has worked as a consultant to Audi, on the R8, and Toyota on the GT-One, cars which Pignacca says "set milestones in the design of the sports car. We learned a lot from Toyota, everyone liked it, it was breathtaking."

ORECA faces a tough challenge this year from Audi, Bentley, Panoz, Cadillac and Courage. "Competition at the top is very strong" says M. de Chaunac, "but we are prepared for this. We will challenge Audi this year, and it is our ambition to win the 24-Hours of Le Mans next year."

Four times Le Mans winner Yannick Dalmas is Chrysler's lead driver, and was on hand to fire the LMP900 up for the first time and drive its first few laps. Olivier Beretta, who has personally driven in 39 of the Chrysler Viper's 45 successes in the last five seasons, is the second driver named at this stage. Others will be announced in due course.

Team ORECA's sporting director, Pierre Dieudonne, predicts that the Chrysler LMP will compete in two or three races before Le Mans. The choice will include the Sebring 12-Hours, ELMS races at Donington Park and Jarama, and FIA Sportscar Championship rounds at Monza and Spa. The latter circuits are popular with teams testing for Le Mans, but the Chrysler LMP would have to be accepted as a "for sale" model (by the year's end) to be eligible for the FIA championship, and the single rollover hoop might have to be made wider, or in some way duplicated behind the notional passenger seat.

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Series LEMANS