DTM showdown with new Opel Astra and the Scorpions

The DTM is gearing up for a spectacular 2003 end-of-season showdown at Hockenheim -- both on and off the track: Inspired by their strong performance at Zandvoort, Opel are determined to leave their marks at the 4.574-kilometre German GP circuit as well. Besides the 470-hp strong competition touring cars, the debut of the new Astra and the new 'Scorpions' edition of the Speedster will be special highlights of Opel's DTM finale.

With tailwinds from Zandvoort: Before the tenth and final race of the season the Opel drivers, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Peter Dumbreck, Alain Menu, Manuel Reuter, Timo Scheider and Joachim Winkelhock, are feeling strong tailwinds, as the Zandvoort race has left no doubt about the Astra V8 Coupe's potential.

Peter Dumbreck's best time on Friday, Timo Scheider's pole on Saturday and, last but not least, the latter's lead over 21 laps on Sunday have restored the Opel squad's self-confidence and inspire them to press ahead. "We'll give our level best to get on the podium. At Zandvoort there was no happy end, and we're bent on making it up this time," Timo Scheider says, oozing motivation after his unfortunate retirement.

New Astra to lead DTM field: Acclaimed as the most popular car in its class at the Frankfurt IAA by an "auto motor und sport" online survey, the new Opel Astra will be having another debut at Hockenheim. Driven by Opel board member Dr Uhland Burkart, the new Asta will be leading the field of the 21 DTM racers during the race-opening lap prior to the start, presenting itself 'in action' to a broader audience for the first time.

'Scorpions' put the pedal to the metal: Straight-forward, dynamic hard-rock sound is the trademark of the 'Scorpions'. Dynamics and 'rich' sound are traits of the Opel Speedster as well, especially the 'Scorpions' edition. Band members Klaus Meine, Rudolf Schenker and Matthias Jabs will be presenting the 200-hp special edition of the turbocharged Speedster to the audience of car enthusiasts at Hockenheim. On Saturday and Sunday, the 'Scorpions' themselves will be taking the wheel to do a few speedy laps.

Volker Strycek, Opel motorsport director, takes initial stock of the season:

"Even before the Hockenheim finale there's no doubt about the overall winner of the 2003 season: It's the DTM. Against the general trend, this touring car series, which is unique across Europe, has had a brilliant development in every respect. Clearly, ITR, the DTM umbrella organisation, its partners and, not to forget, the manufacturers, have done a great job and are offering an exciting package to the audience."

"From a sporting perspective, it's been obvious, even prior to Zandvoort, that the structural changes we made before the season -- epitomized by the new OPC DTM Center -- have put us on the right track. After our strong performance at Zandvoort we'll do our level best to leave our marks at the DTM finale once more."

Timo Scheider (OPC Team Phoenix) on his feelings after Zandvoort:

"For me, Zandvoort was a breakthrough: My first pole in the DTM, then 21 leading laps -- after my fourth place at the EuroSpeedway and our victory in the 24 Hours at the Nürburgring, this was a true highlight for me. Even the strong disappointment I felt in the beginning won't change that. I'm looking forward to Hockenheim with confidence. If things go as well there as they did in the qualifying session at Zandvoort, I'll surely be frustrated about the season being over. Clearly, our expectations after making our changes have been met: These are long term effects. We can see this now, as the car has been constantly getting better."

Peter Dumbreck (OPC Team Phoenix) on his personal development in 2003:

"With Opel I've been able to give my career another boost - most importantly, to restore self-confidence. Through hard work we've managed to achieve quite a bit together, and my second place at the EuroSpeedway has of course been the pinnacle so far. Another pleasant development for me has been the fact that I'm being perceived differently. Driving for Opel has enormously boosted my profile. As an Opel driver, the fan community treats you like a real favourite -- this is a feeling I'd not experienced this way before."

Manuel Reuter (OPC Team Holzer) on the prestige and value of the DTM:

"The DTM event package is simply smashing, as shown by the incredibly favourable response

it's had. In the course of four years, the series has been carefully developed in the right direction. Comparing it to Formula One says a lot: While spectator interest in the pinnacle of motor racing has been declining, the DTM has seen the opposite trend. It's not only highly appealing to fans. It's also likely that automotive manufacturers will find it very difficult in future to ignore the DTM when it comes to planning their sporting commitments. As I see it, the DTM's 'return on investment', to use a business term, is simply gigantic."

"Technological developments are generally headed in the right direction, too. The series has safeguards against escalations of technology and exploding costs, and this is an exemplary approach. The DTM is also good fun for the drivers. That's why I always look forward to the final race on the 'grand stage'. Hockenheim is something very special."

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