German Touring Car Masters (DTM)
Preview - Rounds 15/16 N=FCrburgring, 6/8 October, 2000
For the second time this year DTM followers are gathering in Eifel region of Germany, this time for the eighth and penultimate race of the German Touring Car Masters (DTM), October 6/8. This marks the start of the final leg of the 2000 season for the eight Opel team drivers for Holzer, Phoenix, Irmscher and Euroteam. Phoenix driver, Manuel Reuter, is in the best position for a top place in the championship. After a third and second place in the two previous races, at Oschersleben, he moved up into second place again on the leaderboard bringing him level with Mercedes driver Klaus Ludwig. "I am hoping for a nice sunny October weekend," Reuter said, remembering back to the difficult race in wet conditions during August when he was in a similar position. "And since I believe there's a God of racing I'm counting on the right amount of luck. "
At the Nurburgring even more demands are made on the weather, traditionally temperamental. The first DTM invitation race on the 4.556 kilometre long Grand Prix course was characterised by showers and resulted in a low point-scoring weekend for the Opel drivers. Nevertheless, Manuel Reuter has high hopes for the second appearance. "We were well prepared for dry weather there," recalls the 39 year old, who has gained two victories, seven podium placings and a pole position in total.
The practice times in August also bode well for an exciting confrontation with Mercedes. At the time of the fifth race of the season Uwe Alzen (Opel Team Holzer) was in first place after coming second in the qualifiers, with Reuter starting directly behind from position four. Six Opel V8 Coupes were in the top ten qualifiers. "This time we have a good chance of a place in the first two starting rows," predicts Alzen, who celebrated his first ever DTM victory in Oschersleben, clinching the fourth victory of the season for Opel. "The Nurburgring is one of my favourite tracks, certainly I've had a lot of success there, particularly in long distance races."
Regular Phoenix driver Michael Bartels also shares happy memories of one of Germany's most famous circuits and along with his teammates is looking forward to another race on home ground. Opel team Phoenix is based in Meuspath, which is actually only a stone's throw from the track and has many supporters in and around the Nurburgring. "After the result in Oschersleben there has been some movement on the points table," explains Opel sport manager Volker Strycek. "At the Nurburgring concentration will again be focused on gaining as many points as possible."
Holzer driver Eric Helary could also have a part to play in this, since the Frenchman showed good form in Oschersleben, securing a fourth place. At Oschersleben, however, some drivers, including Joachim Winkelhock did not escape unscathed. After a highly promising fourth place in the qualifying rounds, a starting collision in the first race spelled the end for the Holzer driver. The damaged Opel V8 Coupe rejoined the racetrack, but had, as a result of the accident, sustained similar damage to the car driven by Timo Scheider, who forfeited his fifth place on the starting grid. The DTM Opels driven by Christian Menzel (Opel Team Irmscher) and Stefano Modena (Opel Euroteam) were also badly damaged in the collision.
"Preparation has been difficult as so much went wrong in Oschersleben," recalls Volker Strycek. "We've got plenty of work to do before the race weekend in Eifel, but that won't prevent us from lining up eight perfectly prepared V8 Coupes on the starting grid."