Le Mans, June 18, 2000, at 16.00 - Chrysler Mopar Team ORECA achieved all of the team's goals at the Le Mans 24 hours this year when Didier Theys, Didier Andre and Jeffrey van Hooydonk brought their Mopar 6-litre, V8-powered car home in 21st position overall.
The race started badly for the team when Yannick Dalmas pulled off early on in the race in his example of the Le Mans Prototype with an oil pressure problem. However, the sister car ran nearly trouble-free from Saturday night through to the race finish on Sunday afternoon, and finished in formation with the class-winning Chrysler Viper GTS R/Ts. Only a broken throttle and an alternator failure interrupted the car's progress during the final 15 hours.
The team's finishing position was ahead of two Cadillac Northstar LMPs that have already been raced this year and have had more development than the Chrysler Mopar. "That was just an added bonus," said Lou Patane, Vice President DaimlerChrysler, President Mopar Operations and Mopar Performance Parts. "Our first goal was to finish the race, but to beat Cadillac on our race debut is great and is an indication of what we may be capable of with further development.
"We keep a close relationship between our road car division and our racing division and we try hard to bring together some of the basic principals. This is almost like the Viper victory for us. I congratulate Hugues de Chaunac and his team for his hard work and all of the Chrysler engineers who have been involved in this project."
ORECA Team Director Hugues de Chaunac commented: "Many people did not expect to see us here on Sunday afternoon, and I have to admit that after the first car went out on only the second lap I was beginning to wonder myself. However, we have got through, and learned more than we ever could have done in any test. This is the toughest race in the world, everyone has worked hard, and this is the first step on Chrysler and ORECA's next journey together.
"This would not have happened without the support of Lou Patane and I hope that this is the start of a project that will be as successful as that of the Viper."
For Jeffrey van Hooydonk, this was more than just another race. "I have really enjoyed myself," said new-comer van Hooydonk, "I would really love it if ORECA would come to do some American Le Mans Series races, and if they asked me to drive I would like to do it. I have had a really good time, driving a prototype around Le Mans and would love to do it again."