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  Mercedes-Benz CLR
 

  Article Image gallery (20) 701Y000003 Specifications  
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Country of origin:Germany
Produced in:1999
Numbers built:4
Predecessor:Mercedes-Benz CLK-LM
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:October 19, 2009
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Click here to download printer friendly versionUnder the ultra-smooth body panels, the CLR was much more than a further refinement of the CLK-LM. The carbon-fibre monocoque was completely redesigned to accommodate the much smaller cockpit. The double-wishbone suspension, with push-rod actuated coil springs over dampers, had a revised geometry as the LM GTP regulations called for slightly narrower tyres. The all-alloy V8 engine was enlarged from 5 to 5.7 litre in a quest to find the optimal balance between displacement and restrictor size. It was quoted by Mercedes-Benz to produce 600 bhp. This power was transferred to the rear wheels through a six-speed XTrac gearbox.

Ahead of the traditional Le Mans test-day, scheduled on May 2nd, the CLR was subjected to thousands of miles of testing. After the poor showing in 1998, Mercedes-Benz was determined to leave nothing to chance. With the 1997 and 1998 FIA GT results still fresh, the rival Audi, BMW, Nissan and Toyota teams had every right to be worried. In that light the performance of the CLR at the test-day was quite surprising. Piloted by an all-star crew of drivers, which included the likes of Bernd Schneider, Christophe Bouchut, Nick Heidfeld and Mark Webber, the new Mercedes-Benz could do no better 6th, 14th and 15th. Embarrassed and baffled, the team returned to Stuttgart to try and salvage things before the race.

Come June it only got worse for the AMG-Mercedes team. Bernd Schneider pushed the car to the absolute limits and still only got his CLR up to fourth in qualifying. That was the least of the team's concerns as Mark Webber had flipped his car in the run up to the Indianapolis corner. It had miraculously landed back on its wheels and there was no footage of the accident, so the whole incident was quickly swept under the corporate carpet. Before the nasty accident, the car had set the 10th quickest time. The third entry had managed to claim the seventh starting position. Overnight a new CLR was shipped to Le Mans to replace the car that had performed the aerobatics during qualifying.

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  Article Image gallery (20) 701Y000003 Specifications