Le Mans, June 17, 2000, at 19.00 - Chrysler Mopar Team ORECA's fact finding mission during this year's Le Mans 24-hours has been reduced to one car. A freak oil pressure problem within the Mopar 6-litre V8 engine has been cited as the cause of the number 5 car's retirement.
Yannick Dalmas, a four-time winner at Le Mans, stopped at the Mulsanne corner and was pulled behind the wall by marshals. The Frenchman started 14th on the grid and was running comfortably in 15th position.
"I had a warning light come on so I got onto the radio to the pits and five seconds later the engine cut out," said Dalmas. "There was no warning before hand, the engine was running perfectly."
Jean-Philippe Belloc, co-driver of the number 5 Chrysler Mopar, said: "This is not something that has ever happened before." Nicolas Minassian, the third driver in the car, commented: "I don't know what went wrong. The engine was running like a baby since it was installed and it was really nice. We knew that this was going to be a hard race, and I am disappointed that I did not get to drive during the race."
The second Chrysler Mopar Team ORECA Le Mans Prototype, driven by Didier Theys, Jeffrey van Hooydonk and Didier Andre, has been delayed by a little more than an hour by a coolant leak. Theys had been running in 17th position. "We will keep putting miles on the car for as long as we can," commented the Belgian.
Lou Patane, Vice President DaimlerChrysler, President Mopar Motorsport Operations and Mopar Performance Parts, commented: "It would appear logical that the car lost drive with the oil pump. It is not something that we can confirm because we have never had the problem before.
"We will not be able to say for sure until we have completed a post mortem on the engine. We are continuing our 24-hour test with the other car. It is a disappointment to have lost one car in the race."