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The Mercedes -Benz CLR was a GT race car, which was built for the 24- hour race at Le Mans in 1999 and taken there after several high speed crashes out of the race.
In April 1999, Mercedes introduced the new Mercedes CLR as successor of the FIA GT Championship winner Mercedes -Benz CLK GTR. The technology together with V8 engine variant CLK LM was largely adopted. The design oriented themselves to features of the then-new Mercedes -Benz CL ( C 215 ). As the direct competitor Toyota GT -One and Audi R8C the CLR was designed according to the rules and regulations Le Mans GT Prototype.
This car should take part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. After very good results in tests on race tracks (among the Oval Homestead at Miami ) Mercedes was confident that the car was fast enough to win the race, despite only a short test phase in the wind tunnel.
During the Thursday evening qualifying session the CLR took off the # 4 of Mark Webber before the Indianapolis curve and overturned several times. Webber came up with a sore throat and a few bruises on the elbow. On -competitive Friday, the car was completely rebuilt on a new chassis, including a waiver of the organizer was needed. In this case, deflectors have been attached in order to increase the output drive to the front axle, in addition, as used in the rain. Again with Mark Webber at the wheel took the car on the warmup on Saturday morning, but the CLR No. 4 this time was only until then still existing hill in front of the Mulsanne corner where the car took off again from the track, overturned, and on the are roof remained. The vertically into the air, " standing " car has been widely recorded in photos and published the same day in the newspapers. There were no injuries in this accident.
Despite this second accident and in the consciousness of the Le Mans accident of 1955, Norbert Haug decided to let the other two cars start the race. This requires further modifications to the remaining cars were made with the start numbers 5 and 6 and the driver instructed to follow other cars not too close over larger bumps.
All precautions despite it came in the race after a good four hours to another accident with a CLR; This time it concerned the car with the start number 5 and the driver Peter Dumbreck. Dumbreck followed a Toyota GT -One, his CLR raised in a bend in the approach to the level of the Indianapolis curve down, somersaulted in the air and landed off the track in the bushes. The accident could be followed live on television. Dumbreck was almost rescued unhurt from the car.
The remaining car with Bernd Schneider at the wheel was immediately taken out of the race, the garage doors in the pits were closed as a sign of the task. The accident led to the cancellation of the planned participation of the CLR a few weeks later at the Norisring, which led to the cancellation of the planned there sports car race. Advertising posters with the CLR, the Audi R8R Joest Racing and BMW V12 LMR by Schnitzer Motorsport hung at the time of already. Also participating in the American Le Mans Series was canceled by Mercedes. The only remaining CLR, No. 6, never drove a race again and was not found in the Mercedes -Benz Museum, but sold to a private collector. The car was moved to the Hockenheimring in autumn 2001 by Harald Grohs and issued in the summer of 2008 in St. Ingbert, as part of an exhibition in honor of Bernd Schneider. In June 2009, the car was moving at the Nürburgring.
Mercedes gave the bumps in Le Mans blame. Prior to 2001, the race hill in front of the Mulsanne corner was cleared by about 2 m away, and a minimum height of the subfloor to the road in the rules of the Le Mans prototype was committed. Because back in 1998 at Road Atlanta Yannick Dalmas overturned in a Porsche 911 GT1 '98 while crossing a hill behind a competitor, just two years later Bill Auberlen in the BMW V12 LMR on the same race course. Both types were previously driven at Le Mans without such accidents, and each had won.