DaimlerChrysler Presents Mercedes-Benz CLR for Le Mans Three New Prototypes To Participate in 24 Hour Race
HOCKENHEIM, Germany (April 20, 1999) -- DaimlerChrysler presented the new Mercedes-Benz CLR and the drivers' squad for the 1999 Le Mans 24 Hours (June 12-13, in France) at the Hockenheimring today.
Team AMG Mercedes will run three Mercedes CLR sports-prototypes at Le Mans with the following driver teams: Jean-Marc Gounon, 36, of France, Marcel Tiemann, 25, of Germany, and Mark Webber, 22, of Australia, will drive car number four; Christophe Bouchut, 32, of France, Peter Dumbreck, 25, of Great Britain, and Nick Heidfeld, 22, of Germany, will drive car number five; and Bernd Schneider, 35, of Germany, Franck Lagorce, 31, of France, and Pedro Lamy, 27, of Portugal, will drive car number six.
Two cars have to be qualified during pre-qualifying May 2, while the number-four car has already been confirmed for the race because Mercedes-Benz won last year's FIA GT Championship.
Of the 34 entered cars in the LMP and LM GTP categories (open and closed sports-prototypes) only 26 will be allowed to race, so eight cars will drop out after pre-qualifying.
The extensive test program for the long distance classic included a number of 24-hour race simulations with 21,735 miles being covered to date. The program was started at California Speedway in Fontana, Calif., Feb. 22. During the second long run in March, at Fontana again, the new Mercedes sports-prototype covered 3,105 miles.
"We experienced no major problems with the CLR. It ran like clockwork," stated Mercedes-Benz Motorsport manager Norbert Haug. "We have developed a solid base, which was demonstrated during our last 30-hour test at Magny-Cours last weekend. There we ran more than 3,105 miles with the same car. The team was very pleased with the 8,073 miles covered by the three cars at Magny-Cours."
The Mercedes CLR is a completely new car powered by a six-litre V8 normally aspirated engine. The appearance shows the relation to the Mercedes product family with the CLR featuring the face of the new Mercedes CL coupe. The CLR has a smaller frontal area, and at only slightly more than three feet high, the new Silver Arrow is approximately four inches lower than its predecessor, the CLK-LM (and it is lower than a Formula One car as well.) The weight of 1,984 pounds complies with the weight limit specified by the Le Mans regulations.
A production engine provided the basis for the engine block and the crankshaft of the 600 horsepower unit (M 119) that was run on the dyno for the first time at the beginning of December. Until 1998 the M 119 was used to power S-, SL- and E-class production cars. A five-liter turbocharged version of the M 119 had already taken a Le Mans victory in 1989, the year of the Le Mans debut in the new Mercedes-Benz motorsport era.
In addition to Le Mans, more races with the CLR are being planned, according to Hans Werner Aufrecht, the owner of motorsport partner H.W.A GmbH, whose company is in charge of the design, construction and running of the Le Mans CLR. "We are concentrating our efforts on Le Mans and will then compete in select international races later on, for example in the American Le Mans Series, and for sure in the invitation race at the Norisring. The German fans deserve to watch the CLR race live."