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CART President and CEO Chris Pook’s efforts to tempt European-based race teams to establish Champ Car programs, in order to fill out the series’ dwindling cast of entries, appears to be bearing some fruit. Renowned French sports car entrant ORECA acknowledged that it is at least exploring the possibilities of forming a CART operation.

ORECA team owner Hugues de Chaunac visited the CART paddock at Rockingham last weekend and admitted his interest in the series, whose prospective costs for a start-up team have been significantly lowered for 2003 through the introduction of a single-engine formula and other cost-cutting measures.

"We are investigating opportunities at the moment," said de Chaunac. "CART is a good formula."

ORECA has campaigned open-wheel cars successfully in Formula 3000, but is best known in the U.S. for its Le Mans and American Le Mans Series campaigns. Although based in France, it retains a U.S. satellite base at Road Atlanta in Georgia. The team’s interest in CART has been further spurred by its inability to secure a partnership with a manufacturer for Le Mans.

ORECA ran Le Mans and the FIA Sports Car Championship this year with a Dallara/Judd prototype, after its association with Chrysler ended in 2001. Interestingly, one of its drivers at the Sarthe this year was ex-Target/Chip Ganassi Racing CART driver Nicolas Minassian….
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