PRESS RELEASE : THE CASE MERCEDES
18 FEVRIER 2000
The "24 Heures du Mans" organised in June 1999 have been marked by the three Mercedes CLR LM GTP spectacular "takeoff" which forced the manufacturer to withdraw from the race. Since then, many things have been said and written regarding that subject which justify a clarification from the Organiser. Questioned by the Fédération Française du Sport Automobile (F.F.S.A.), the Automobile-Club de l'Ouest (A.C.O.) explained that there were no good reasons for banning the Mercedes cars from the start of the race on the pretext that one out of the three cars had been involved in an accident during the practice sessions while the two others gave no sign of any fault neither during the pre-qualifying and qualifying practice nor during the warm up. Would anyone admit that as a result of a burst tyre ost by M. Hakkinen's Mercedes during the Germany Grand Prix or the sudden brake failure of the M. Schumacher's Ferrari during the British Grand Prix could lead to the exclusion of D. Coultard's Mc Laren-Mercedes as well as E. Irvine's Ferrari ? As far as the responsability of the "24 Heures" Race Control is concerned, the Automobile-Club de l'Ouest wishes to limit to that sole comment. On the other hand, the "takeoff" of the Mercedes cars call for some clarifications : It is understandable that a big manufacturer like Mercedes cannot accept the results achieved after taking part in Le Mans "24 Hours" in 1998 and 1999. After an investigation lead by the Automobile-Club de l'Ouest concerning these accidents, it appeared that the Mercedes CLR LM GTP entered in 1999 as well as the Y. Dalmas' GT1 Porsche, also involved in an impressive "takeoff" during the "Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta" race in October 1998, had front and rear overhangs much too long in relation to their wheelbase. The regulations setting, on ground of technical reasons, an overhang limit applied always to Prototype LMP and not to the former GT1 cars such as Mercedes and Porsches. The A.C.O. 2000 regulations have been modified consequently. It is easy to attribute to somebody else responsibilities which one refuses to take. This is why the A.C.O. insists on reminding : 1) Among all cars which took part in the "24 Heures du Mans" 1999, only the Mercedes CLRs met with "takeoff" problems, aerodynamic instability, when they were not the fastest cars ; 2) Driver P. DUMBRECK'statement is inadmissible regarding the splipstream of a Toyota and has to be confirmed for the kerbs ratified by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile. 3) On June 25th 1999, the President of the Automobile-Club de l'Ouest addressed a letter with expressions of sympathy to Mr SCHREMPP, Chairman of Daimler-Benz. The reply (letter dated July 10th 1999) came from Mr. LEPLER... Let us give Mr. Jean-Marie BALESTRE, President of the Senate of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile, the conclusion (*) : "Mercedes has also built a production car which turned upside down. And it was not at Le Mans. That track suits perfectly endurance racing. It is one of the most beautiful circuits in the world." (*) "AUTO HEBDO" du 22.12.99




PACE CAR 2000
22 SEPTEMBRE 1999
Seville STS Pace Car at the Le Mans 24 Hour Race Cadillac involvement in endurance classic Frankfurt. The 1999 IAA will see Cadillac unveil its pace car version of the Seville STS, which will be in action at next year's Le Mans 24 hour race. "To pace one of the world's most prestigious endurance races is obviously a great honour for Cadillac," said John Smith, General Motors vice president and Cadillac general manager. "It is the perfect stage to showcase the 2000 STS's world-class performance and technological prowess." A modified exhaust has enabled Cadillac to boost the output of the sporty luxury sedan by 20 hp to 320 hp for its appearance at Le Mans. With high-speed action in mind, the engineers also enhanced the Stabilitrak integrated chassis control system. 18 inch Goodyear 275/40ZR tires ensure proper traction. High intensity headlights and the award-winning Night Vision system mean the driver will never lose track in the dark. Special sports seats equipped with the CervigardTM anti-whiplash head restraint seat system provide excellent lateral support while at the same time absorbing forces to the driver's head, neck and spine. Cadillac will in fact have two cars on the track in Le Mans: while the French endurance classic will be paced by a version of the Seville STS, an LMP Le Mans Prototype will actually be the first car the American luxury brand has had in the starter field for 50 years.





3 AOUT 1999
LE MANS 24 HOURS
The A.S.A.-A.C.O. "24 HEURES DU MANS" confirms the registration on calendar of the 68th Le Mans race on Saturday 17th & Sunday 18th June 2000.
Regarding the PREQUALIFYING PRACTICE SESSIONS "24 HEURES DU MANS" initially on 7th May, the date has been advanced on SUNDAY 30th APRIL 2000.




GENERAL MOTORS WILL PROVIDE THE NEXT "24 HOURS OF LE MANS" WITH CARS FOR THE CLERK OF THE RACE AND SAFETY CARS
APRIL, 7TH 1999
After declaring their come-back to the " 24 hours of Le Mans " in the year 2000 with a Cadillac prototype, General Motors demonstrate their intention to become even more involued in this competition. The Americain compagny has just confirmed to the ASA ACO " 24 hours of Le Mans ", organising the race, that it will provide the clerk of the race with Chevrolet vehicules and Corvettes Safety Cars during the pre-qualifying and practice sessions for the next 2nd of May as well as for the " 24 hours of Le Mans " 1999. Moreover, talks between the ASA ACO " 24 hours of Le Mans " and General Motors are currently taking place to provide the clerk of the race and the safety personnel with Cadillac vehicule for the " 24 hours of Le Mans " of the year 2000 and the following.




75 entries for the 48 places on the grid!
MARCH, 23RD 1999
The A.S.A.-A.C.O. "24 Heures du Mans" Selection Committee met on Tuesday 2nd March to examine the entry forms.

Out of the 75 received, the Committee has selected 62 entries, 5 of whom are automatically qualified. Therefore, 57 competitors* will have to take part in prequalifying practice on Sunday 2nd May 1999.

48 of the 62 competitors will be admitted to practice on Wednesday 9th and Thursday 10th June.

Among the 62* cars, it is worth noting the presence of 34 PROTOTYPES, 24 of which are of the "LM"P type (open-top cars) and 10 "LM" GTPs (closed vehicles). There are also 21 GTS entries and 7 GTs.


*Subject to the SEBRING results

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° WHY PREQUALIFYING PRACTICE?

Prequalifying was brought back for the 1995 Le Mans 24 Hour race. The aim was to put an end to the principle of selecting competitors on their entry forms alone, and at the same time to allow a larger number of contenders to show their potential on the circuit by setting their fastest lap during the practice day.

° THE RULES OF THE GAME

After receiving the entry forms, the Selection Committee has invited 62 cars to take part in prequalifying practice.

Cars and drivers will be split up into two equally-balanced series (number of cars, makes, performances etc.) so as to:

- Respect the safety standards, practice conditions preceding the race as well as the level of performances;

- Take into account possible changes in practice conditions due to the weather, the state of the track, possible interruptions etc;

Prequalifying practice will take place on SUNDAY 2nd MAY 1999

The cars belonging to the following categories and groups will be included in each series in the most equitable proportions possible:

1. Prototypes ("LM" P and "LM" GTP)
2. GTS
3. GTs

A car is eligible to take part in prequalifying provided that:

-The conformity sticker has been affixed by the srutineers;
-It takes part in the series in which it has been entered. No changes will be accepted by the Stewards.

° QUALIFICATION METHOD

Cars: The number of cars qualified in each group will be determined by respecting the percentage of vehicles represented in each category (including the automatically qualified entries). Of course these percentages will only be known after scrutineering and administrative checks on Saturday 1st May. In so far as is possible, they will be divided up so that the same number of cars will have to qualify in each category.

The total number of cars admitted to practice on Wednesday 9th and Thursday 10th June 1999 (cars exempted from qualification plus those which have prequalified) is limited to the 48 maximum that will start in the race on SATURDAY 12th June at 4 p.m.

DRIVERS: 3 drivers maximum may be entered for each vehicle and can only drive a car entered by the same competitor.
The qualifying time will be that set by one of the drivers nominated for the car in question for the race itself. Should several drivers entered by the same competitor drive the car, then at the end of prequalifying practice the latter must designate the one whose time has to be taken into account to qualify the car.

° COMPETITORS EXEMPTED FROM PREQUALIFYING PRACTICE

The following:

THE 1998 LE MANS 24 HOUR RACE
GT2 Grand Touring Category (Chrysler ORECA)

F.I.A GT SERIES: (AMG MERCEDES)

THE "LITTLE" LE MANS at ROAD ATLANTA
In GT (Dave MARAJ)
and GT2 (FREISINGER Motorsport)

Cars must comply with the A.C.O Technical Regulations in order to take part in the 1999 Le Mans 24 Hour race.



DATES TO REMEMBER

Friday 30th April: From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.: Scrutineering and Administrative checks
Saturday 1st May: From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Scrutineering and Administrative checks
Saturday 1st May: From 6 p.m.: Posting of the cars in each series
Sunday 2nd May: From 7.30 a.m. to 8.30 p.m.: Prequalifying practice (2 series)

The exact times of the two series will be communicated later.




Creation of the International Advisory Board
MARCH, 17TH 1999
THE AUTOMOBILE CLUB DE L'OUEST IS INTERNATIONALIZING ITSELF:

In way to prepare the evolution of the technical regulations "24 Heures du Mans" for the next coming years, the A.S.A. Automobile Club de l'Ouest "24 Heures du Mans" has made the decision to create an International Advisory Board, giving the possibility to gather information and advice from competent persons.

Have accepted to be part of that committee:

Mr. Michael GUE, President of the Professional Sports Car Racing - USA
Lord HESKETH k.b.e., President British Racing Drivers'Club - Great Britain
Mr. Horst MARCHART, Membre du Directoire Porsche, R&D Weissach - Germany
Mr. Giuliano MICHELOTTO, President Officine Michelotto G&C s.n.c. - Italy
Mr. Takayoshi OHASHI, former Manager Mazdaspeed - Japan.

Secretaries: Mr. Gérard GASCHET - A.C.O. Sports
Mr. Daniel PERDRIX - A.C.O. Technique.

Delegate President: Mr. Alain BERTAUT - Vice-President A.C.O.

President: Mr. Michel COSSON - President of the A.S.A.-A.C.O. "24 Heures du Mans"
President of the A.C.O.

The first meeting of that committee will take place just after the next prequalifying practice sessions, on Tuesday May 4th of 1999 at 3 p.m., at the A.C.O. headquarters in PARIS: 118, boulevard Haussmann, 75008 PARIS.




The real GTs are back!
MARCH, 9TH 1999
The new LM GT category created by the A.C.O. this year has already generated considerable interest as 7 cars of three different makes have been selected to take part in prequalifying.

The Ferrari 550 Maranello entered under the banner of the French team, Red Racing, and prepared by Enjolras Sport, will make its racing debut. It will be driven by Lucien Guitteny and Patrick Camus.

Also making their debut in this category will be three 911 GT3 Porsches (Type 996) entered by teals which have close connections with the mother company as witnessed by the presence of a couple of young Germans Marc Basseng and Dirk Müller, members of the factory Junior Team in the Supercup.

Dave Maraj is the director of the American team Champion, which has been exempted from prequalifying thanks to their win in the GT1 Category in the "Petit" Le Mans race on the Road Atlanta circuit. This team is well known to Daytona and Sebring regulars and won the GT Category of the USRRC Series with Thierry Boutsen. 1999 will see its Le Mans debut.

Manthey Racing is a team that was set up in 1996 by the former German driver, Olaf Manthey. It has specialised in the Supercup which it won in 1997 and 98 with Patrick Huisman and it has also entered Stéphane Ortelli in this competition. Dirk Müller aged 22 who won the Carrera Cup last year is the only driver nominated for this car so far. Marc Basseng (20 years old) who finished third in the same championship will also be part of the Champion team.

The other 911 is entered by Larbre Competition whose director Jack Leconte has been nominated as one of the drivers. The 911 GT3 is powered by a flat 6 normally aspirated engine derived from the GT1 block. It is water-cooled, puts out 450 bhp and transmission is provided by a synchronised 6-speed box.

Two RSR 993s complete the Porsche contingent: one is entered by the British driver Gerald McQuillan and the other by Thierry Perier's French team, Perspective Racing, which has already raced in the french GT Championship and daytona.

A Chrysler Viper GTS has been entered by the Brookspeed team which has raced in both the French and British GT Championships. It also won the Marcos Mantis Trophy thanks to Australian, Neil Cunningham. As opposed to the GTS-R Vipers from the Oreca workshops, this car, prepared by Brookspeed, is based on a series production model.




The Toyota driver line-up
MARCH, 3RD 1999
Toyota have announced their driver line-up for the 24 Hour race. Martin Brundle will be backed up by the 1998 ISRS champions Emmanuel Collard and Vincent Sospiri while in car no.2 will be new recruit Alan McNish, Thierry Boutsen and Ralf Kelleners and like last year the third Toyota will be entrusted to the same 100% Japanese crew Ukyo Katayama, Toshio Suzuki and Keiichi Tsuchiya.




Rafanelli in ALMS
MARCH, 3RD 1999
As the agreement between BMW and the Rafanelli team has not been renewed for the Le Mans 24 Hour race, the Italian team has taken up another challenge. Henceforth, they will enter a Judd-powered Riley & Scott in the ALMS series, the brainchild of Don Panoz. The car will make its debut in the Sebring event where the experienced Eric van de Poele will team up with two young drivers entered in F 3000 by Rafanelli; David Saelens and Tomas Enge.




Two GT2 Porsches for Larbre
MARCH, 3RD 1999
Larbre Competition is preparing two Porsche GT2s for the 24 Hour race. The lead driver in the one entered by Chereau will be Patrice Goueslard while the second in the colours of Larbre, SP Air and Playstation will be driven by Jean-Pierre Jarier during prequalifying.




Obituary: Umberto Maglioli
FEBRUARY, 25TH 1999
The Italian driver, Umberto Maglioli died recently at the age of 70 after a long illness. He was a great endurance specialist and won the Targa Florio and the Carrera PanAmerica. He raced at Le Mans 11 times between 1953 and 1968 in Lancias, Porsches, Ferraris, Ford GT 40 and Chevrolet Corvette. His only finish was in 1963 when he came in third in a works 250 P shared with Mike Parkes.




Toyota back testing
FEBRUARY, 25TH 1999
Toyota has restarted testing on the Ricard circuit with a pair of GT-Ones that have been made more reliable but look much the same. One of them had a big accident when Kelleners was at the wheel.




Lehto with BMW
FEBRUARY, 25TH 1999
JJ Lehto, who lost his CART drive, has found a seat in the BMW team and drove the LMR V12 during testing on the Paul Ricard circuit where the BMW was quicker than the Audis and Toyotas who where there at the same time. As nine drivers have now been announced for the two 99 models entered, it seems probable that three of them will have to do with the 98 models entered on a private basis. Unless, of course, BMW brings a third V12 LMR to the Sarthe!




Audi UK on the list!
FEBRUARY, 25TH 1999
At least four Audis will be entered for Le Mans as Audi UK's involvement has been confirmed with two cars in addition to the pair already entered by Joest Racing. One of the English entries will be driven by Andy Wallace, James Weaver and Perry McCarthy. No drivers have been mentioned. Audi tested on the Paul Ricard circuit between 16th and 19th February with no fewer than three different prototypes!




AMG Mercedes-Benz have announced their driver line-up!
FEBRUARY, 25TH 1999
Germans Bernd Schneider, Marcel Tiemann and Nick Heidfeld will share one car while the second entry will be entrusted to a 100% French crew Christophe Bouchut, Jean-Marc Gounon and Franck Lagorce. The third Mercedes will have a more cosmopolitan flavour as alongside Pedro Lamy from Portugal will be Australian Mark Weber and Scot Peter Dumbreck (Japanese F3 champion and Macao winner). They will all have new cars based on the 1998 CLK-LM.