News and updates January 23

Chrysler LMP misses Valencia Test Chrysler has withdrawn its LMP from this week's Michelin test in Valencia. Four-time Le Mans winner Yannick Dalmas was able to complete a handful of laps in the new Chrysler LMP before an electrical failure...

Chrysler LMP misses Valencia Test
Chrysler has withdrawn its LMP from this week's Michelin test in Valencia. Four-time Le Mans winner Yannick Dalmas was able to complete a handful of laps in the new Chrysler LMP before an electrical failure stopped the car, and the team elected to withdraw from this week's tyre test in order to establish what happened to the engine.

Oreca Sporting Director Pierre Dieudonné said: "The engine has tested on the bench, but not with all the components that are in the car, so we will have to check them."

The car is scheduled to test again at the beginning of February in Jarama, Spain. Two tests are scheduled per month between now and Le Mans pre-qualifying, and there is the possibility that the car will compete in Europe prior to Le Mans.

Chrysler will attend the Valencia test with the Viper GTS R/T to complete on-going developments for the customer teams. Audi, BMW, Panoz and Team Rafanelli's Lola are all taking part in the Michelin test, while Oreca driver Olivier Beretta will test an Arrows Grand Prix car.

MG appoints Chamberlain Motorsport
Chamberlain Motorsport has been appointed to run the MG ‘works’ team at Le Mans in the LMP675 category, a three-year deal for the team that has compaigned Chrysler Vipers in the FIA GT Championship since 1997. MG has named five of its six drivers, Julian Bailey, Anthony Reid, Warren Hughes, Kevin McGarrity and Johnny Cane.

MG had intended to award the contract to Mike Earle's Arena International team (previously Onyx), but Earle withdrew from the deal on Monday afternoon. By then, MG's press release had already been posted out with a Tuesday embargo, and a correction is expected any minute!

Herbert to Bentley?
Johnny Herbert, the Englishman who retired from Formula One at the end of a disastrous season with Jaguar last year, is on the shortlist to drive for Bentley at Le Mans. The 36-year-old was hoping to sign for Zakspeed in Champ Cars, but was beaten to the seat by Mercedes cub driver Marcel Tiemann. Herbert is said to be "very interested" in driving for Bentley, though has "definitely not yet signed."

His name would be a welcome one in the Bentley driving line-up and would undoubtedly add yet more prestige and support should he be chosen for one of the three remaining seats. Herbert won Le Mans in 1991 behind the wheel of an Oreca-prepared Mazda 787B shared with Bertrand Gachot and Volker Weidler, a victory that victory remains as Japan's only ever-success at Le Mans.

Another Briton, Mark Blundell, is also on the shortlist having admitted to being in talks with Bentley. "I have two options on Le Mans, and both of them are quite obvious," stated the Englishman. "I am having conversations with Bentley and have been for some months. I am still in the conversations as things are closer to getting together."

Blundell, another former Grand Prix driver who moved to Champ Cars in 1996 with PacWest Racing, is no stranger to Le Mans, having started from pole position in 1990 in the Nissan R90CK that he shared with Julian Bailey and Gianfranco Brancatelli. His lap obliterated the opposition due to an experimental qualifying engine that produced a reputed 1000bhp. His race unit blew up in the 10th hour.

MG is believed to be Blundell's other option, though it will contest the LMP675 category and the Briton is looking for outright race wins. "I want to be in a position to win again as I have had a few lean years," he said.

A Bentley insider said that it was "unlikely that we would have both [Herbert and Blundell]. They are in the group that is being considered, but we are not in a rush to sign anyone. The car is not ready until March and we want to get the best deal possible."

Louis Krages
Louis Krages, who assumed the name "John Winter" to avoid his mother finding out about his motor racing activities, has died in his second home in Atlanta, Georgia at the age of 51. Police are treating the case as suicide.

Krages' cover was blown when he won the 1985 Le Mans 24 hours in a "New Man" Joest Racing Porsche 956 alongside Paulo Barilla and Klaus Ludwig following an epic duel with Richard Lloyd's Canon Porsche.

Far from being displeased, Frau Krages became her son's number one fan and encouraged his racing career, the best part of which was spent in Reinhold Joest's Group C Porsches. Krages' racing was financed by the family's timber business in Bremen, valued at its peak at DM100 million.

After his Group C days, Krages bought himself an Opel Calibra for the DTM series, but his career was virtually ended in 1994 with a fiery accident at the Avus track in Berlin. Krages was unhurt, but the crash was mirrored by the business failure of Louis Krages GmbH that destroyed his fortune. He tried to make a new career in America selling wooden toys, but it was unsuccessful.

-Motor Sports News

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About this article
Series Le Mans
Drivers Johnny Herbert , Yannick Dalmas , Marcel Tiemann , Kevin McGarrity , Mark Blundell , Julian Bailey , Anthony Reid , Klaus Ludwig , Warren Hughes , John Winter , Richard Lloyd , Olivier Beretta , Pierre Dieudonné , Gianfranco Brancatelli , Volker Weidler , Bertrand Gachot
Teams Nissan Motorsport , Team Zakspeed