Mercedes to quit CART at end of 2000

Mercedes-Benz will end its involve in the CART Championship Series at the end of the 2000 season

Mercedes to quit CART at end of 2000

The German manufacturer has struggled over the past two seasons and only the PacWest, Mo Nunn Racing, Bettenhausen and Arciero Project Racing Group squads now use the firm's Ilmor-designed engines.

"We have had to re-evaluate our motorsport strategy from 2001 onwards in order to meet higher targets in the Formula One World Championship where eight manufacturers will be competing in 2002," said Jürgen Hubbert, the DaimlerChrysler board member responsible for Mercedes-Benz cars and motorsport activities.

"We are also very keen to further develop the DTM Touring Car Series, especially in Germany, the home market of Mercedes-Benz. In order to concentrate our efforts on these two series we have to stop our CART programme."

This move comes as little surprise. Rumours about Mercedes' future in America began in early summer, and recent comments by the manufacturer's motorsport boss Norbert Haug added weight to the speculation.

"For every (motorsport) programme, I have to generate a convincing concept for our board," Haug said last week. "Things have changed a lot since we came into CART. We will have a big presence at the US Grand Prix and for that one race, we will receive more coverage than for a whole season of CART."

However, Mercedes' lack of success in America is thought to have been the greatest concern. The late Greg Moore's Homestead victory in March 1999 was the last win for a Mercedes-powered car. The only time a Mercedes driver has made it onto the podium this season was at Nazareth, where PacWest's Mauricio Gugelmin took a close second.

"We had a good time in CART, and experienced highlights in winning the 1994 Indy 500 and the 1997 CART Manufacturers' Championship," Hubbert continued. "Mercedes-Benz expresses its gratitude to its teams and wishes them all the best for the future."

Mercedes has been involved in CART since the 1994 Indianapolis 500, when it badged the specially designed Ilmor engine that Al Unser Jr and Penske took to victory. From 1995 to 1999, the company took 18 further victories and strong campaigns from PacWest and Forsythe in 1997 took Mercedes to the manufacturers' title.

Recent seasons have been less successful though, and Penske's decision to jump ship to Honda at the end of 1999, in spite of Roger Penske's business associations with Mercedes, was a serious indication of the company's plight.

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