Cadillac ditches Riley & Scott

Cadillac's 2001 Le Mans 24 Hours contender will not be built by American constructor Riley & Scott

Cadillac ditches Riley & Scott

The General Motors brand has terminated what was believed to be a three-year agreement with the Indianapolis-based company to design, build and run its Northstar LMP prototypes.

GM Racing boss Herb Fishel said: "We are committed to making improvements at every level of the programme and firmly believe that a change is necessary to raise our competitiveness."

Fishel wasn't prepared to announce any further details of Caddy's plans for next season and said "many options for the endurance racing programme are under consideration".

It is inconceivable, however, that GM doesn't have another chassis constructor as good as signed up for 2001.

The indications are that the next-generation Northstar will be built in Europe and Fishel is known to have talked to a number of European racing car constructors before and after June's Le Mans 24 Hours.

Possibles include Prodrive, which Fishel visited the week after the 24 Hours, and TWR. The latter is known to have aspirations to return to Le Mans after a two-year absence and already builds the engines for GM marque Opel's DTM touring car. Reynard, which owns Riley & Scott, could be another, outside, contender.

Cadillac is also likely to separate the building and running of the cars. A GM spokesman said: "That's under consideration, because there are disadvantages of a joint strategy."

The French DAMS squad, which is running a pair of works-backed Northstars LMPs this year, must be in pole position to take over that role. The ultra-successful Formula 3000 squad out-performed the factory R&S squad in what was a disappointing return to Le Mans for Cadillac. The four Northstars qualified down the grid and the three cars that made it to the finish all suffered significant delays.

This could be the first of a number of announcements from Cadillac. It is still not certain whether the American marque will continue with the Northstar V8 engine, in either turbo or normally-aspirated form. Pirelli supplied tyres to this year's cars, but Goodyears have already been tested. Changes in the driver line-up are also expected for next year.

Cadillac has strenuously denied, however, that it could cancel or postpone the Northstar project.

The manufacturer's arrangement with Riley & Scott will continue until the end of the American Le Mans Series. The next outing for the Northstars is Petit Le Mans at the end of September. Both the factory team and DAMS contest the Road Atlanta event, while the former will also race in the Laguna Seca round in October and the latter will contest December's series finale in Australia.


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