2000 German Touring Car Masters (DTM)
Report - Round 9, Hockenheim, October 29
A double victory for Uwe Alzen (Opel Team Holzer) at the Hockenheim DTM finale meant Opel finished its first season in the new-look series tied with Mercedes on eight wins apiece - the pre-race target of Opel's motorsport chief Volker Strycek. Manuel Reuter (Opel Team Phoenix) was also confirmed as the vice-champion on a day when Opel's V8 Coupes ruled the roost around the high-speed, 6.823km Grand Prix circuit.
In race one, Jo Winkelhock (Opel Team Holzer) and Michael Bartels (Opel Team Phoenix) made it a one-three-four result for the Astra after an epic slip-streaming battle, but went one better in race two to take all three spots on the final podium of the season. Fourth for Stefano Modena (Opel Euroteam) in race two completed the marque's best weekend of the season.
"This was a great day for us," said Strycek. "A one-two-three-four in the second race, plus matching Mercedes on eight race victories is an excellent way to end the season."
But Opel's domination wasn't only confined to the pair of 15-lap races: in qualifying, V8 Coupes took six of the top seven grid slots, with Reuter lining up on pole, ahead of Alzen and Eric Helary (Opel Team Holzer).
Reuter took the lead at the start of race one, with Alzen tucking in behind. An exciting opening lap saw Opels in the top six slots, but with slipstreaming and late-braking into the circuit's three chicanes supplying overtaking action on every lap, the order remained in flux until the very end.
Alzen took the lead on lap six, with Reuter then pitting with accident damage caused by Alzen's attack and missing out on a points finish. After a race-long duel, Winkelhock took third from Bartels on the very last lap with a move at the Ayrton Senna chicane that had the crowd on its feet.
"I was running less rear wing than Michael," said Winkelhock, "which meant Michael was quicker in the stadium and on the brakes, so I decided that was where I would make my move. It was great when it worked!"
Helary took sixth, with Modena's ninth place putting five Opels in the top 10.
Race two saw Uwe Alzen take the lead at the start and hold it until the chequered flag to take his third DTM win of the season.
"My Opel was fantastic on the brakes and handled perfectly for the whole race," he said. "I was able to drive it like 15 qualifying laps."
Winkelhock, Bartels and Modena entertained the crowd on their way to second, third and fourth, but Reuter supplied a heart-stopping moment after being tapped from behind by Thomas Jager's Mercedes and hitting the barriers at high-speed. Reuter was uninjured but decided on a precautionary medical examination. Jager later apologised for the incident, which fortunately did not jeopardise the Opel driver's second overall position in the final points.
Frenchman Helary took seventh in race two to again make it five Opel V8 Coupes in the top 10.
"Looking back on this first season of DTM, we have had a fantastic fight with Mercedes all year long," said Strycek. "Today allows us to go into the winter with confidence, knowing that next year will be even better."
The 2001 DTM championship is scheduled to begin at Hockenheim on April 22nd.
<pre> Race 1
1 Uwe Alzen Opel 32:51.134 2 Bernd Schneider Mercedes 32:57.919 3 Jo Winckelhock Opel 32:59.701 4 Michael Bartels Opel 32:59.881 5 Marcel Faessler (CH) Mercedes 33:03.795 6 Eric Helary (F) Opel 33:05.342
1 Uwe Alzen Opel 32:37.261 2 Jo Winckelhock Opel 32:47.336 3 Michael Bartels Opel 32:49.109 4 Stefano Modena (I) Opel 32:54.313 5 Marcel Tiemann Mercedes 32:59.710 6 Darren Turner (GB) Mercedes 33:00.188
DTM Drivers - final after 18 races:
1 Bernd Schneider Mercedes 221 points 2 Manuel Reuter Opel 162 3 Klaus Ludwig Mercedes 122 4 Marcel Faessler (CH) Mercedes 116 5 Jo Winckelhock Opel 113 6 Uwe Alzen Opel 100