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APRIL 21, 1997

De Chaunac prepares for F1

HUGUES de Chaunac-Lanzac, the French aristocrat who is close to Alain Prost, has started to prepare for his new role in Prost Grand Prix.

The 50-year-old has been Prost's mentor since his ORECA team ran Alain in the works Martini team in Formula Renault in the mid-1970s. In that same period de Chaunac's company ORECA tried to break into F1 with Rene Arnoux driving an RMO-sponsored Martini-Cosworth MK23. The attempt was not a success and ORECA returned to the junior formulae. De Chaunac has always considered F1 to be unfinished business but has had to content himself building up ORECA. The team has won a string of championships in French single-seater racing, has a formidable record in French touring car racing and in the Trophee Andros ice racing and won the Le Mans 24 Hours for Mazda in 1991.

ORECA has expanded to include a lucrative racewear department, parts distribution and engineering work for the motor racing industry. Its current program is the Chrysler Team Viper GT2 sportscar team, with drivers Olivier Beretta, PhilippeƊGache, Justin Bell and American Tommy Archer. The two cars finished 1-2 in the GT2 class at the season opener last week in Hockenheim.

In preparation for his role with Prost, De Chaunac has appointed Monaco-based Belgian Pierre Dieudonne to be ORECA's Sporting Director. Dieudonne (50) was a highly successful racing driver, winning the 1976 European Touring Car Championship and three Spa 24 Hour touring car races - sharing a Mazda with Tom Walkinshaw in 1981.