Le Mans, June 18, 2000, at 16.00 - Chrysler Viper Team ORECA continued their amazing season by recording their third consecutive class win at the Le Mans 24 hours. The most successful trio in modern endurance racing Karl Wendlinger, Olivier Beretta and Dominique Dupuy again delivered the team success. Beretta crossed the line at 4:00pm to close the book on another chapter in the Chrysler Viper GTS R/T's book of success.
Chrysler Viper Team ORECA is the first team to win three GT2/GTS victories at Le Mans in a row. David Donohue, Justin Bell and Luca Drudi won in 1998. Beretta, Wendlinger and Dupuy won their class last year before going on to win the Daytona 24-hours outright in February and their class, again, at Le Mans.
The Vipers saw off the challenge from the GM Corvette team for the third time in succession. The Corvettes challenged at Daytona, at Sebring and this weekend at Le Mans, each time showing impressive speed in qualifying but failing to match the Chrysler Vipers over the longer distances. The nearest Corvette was six laps behind the winning Chrysler Viper GTS R/T, and one lap behind the second-place Chrysler.
"This is simply incredible," said ORECA Team Director Hugues de Chaunac. "Many people saw this as our race to lose because we are the defending champions, and were even talking about us winning this race outright following Daytona.
"We saw it as another tough endurance test against strong opposition and we had to keep a close eye on the Corvettes all through the race. There is no such thing as an easy victory, especially at Le Mans, and we certainly were hoping, not expecting, such a result. There have been a lot of people involved in this victory and others with the Viper. It is a massive team effort from both ORECA and Chrysler and we are delighted to win another title with the Viper."
Lou Patane, Vice President DaimlerChrysler, President Mopar Motorsport Operations and Mopar Performance Parts, said: "The run of success with what is a production-based car has been exceptional. We have fought against very strong opposition and beaten them."
Beretta crossed the line in seventh position overall, the best position ever recorded by a Chrysler Viper since the project began four years ago. The second Chrysler Viper GTS R/T was ninth overall and the third, driven by Patrick Huisman, Tommy Archer and Marc Duez, finished in 12th position overall, fifth in class.
The customer teams were less fortunate. The Carsport Holland Chrysler Viper of Mike Hezemans, Hans Hugenholtz and David Hart came home sixth in the GTS class in last year's Le Mans-winning chassis. Hugh Chamberlain's Goh-entered Chrysler Viper GTS R/T came to an unfortunate end when the car's owner, Swiss Walter Brun, crashed heavily after a suspected tyre failure. The car was destroyed in the 200mph accident though the driver walked away unharmed. The final Chrysler Viper GTS R/T of Jean-Claude Lagniez, Guy Martinolle and Boris Derichebourg, retired early on Sunday morning with a rare engine failure.