DTM

Nurburgring: Opel race report

Three Opels in the points as Nürburgring crowd tops 100,000 Opel achieved one of its best results of the DTM season at the Nürburgring on Sunday with three of its Vectra GTS V8 racecars finishing in the points-paying positions. Marcel Fässler...

Three Opels in the points as Nürburgring crowd tops 100,000

Opel achieved one of its best results of the DTM season at the Nürburgring on Sunday with three of its Vectra GTS V8 racecars finishing in the points-paying positions. Marcel Fässler (OPC Team Phoenix) missed out on a podium finish by just over one second, and had to settle for fourth. Timo Scheider (OPC Team Holzer) fended off ex-F1 star Jean Alesi to finish sixth as 103,000 spectators flocked to the famous circuit in the Eifel mountains of Germany.

Opel's weekend started on a positive note with three cars in the top five positions in the opening test session on Friday morning. Manuel Reuter (OPC Team Holzer) was third fastest overall, ahead of Peter Dumbreck (OPC Team Phoenix) and Laurent Aiello (OPC Team Phoenix). Dumbreck then recorded the second fastest time of the day in the second session, with Fässler also impressing in fourth -- a position he repeated in free practice on Saturday morning.

Dumbreck was again top of the Opel pile in qualifying, the Scot recording the fourth fastest time in Super Pole -- despite locking up his tyres and running wide at Turn 1. Fässler qualified sixth after losing time in the final sector of his lap, while Scheider made it three Opels in the top seven places.

"I did my utmost, pushing really hard," said Dumbreck. "Unfortunately I braked too late for the first corner on my fast lap, otherwise it would have been enough to start from the front row. Even so, I didn't seem to lose too much time, and anything is possible from fourth on the grid, although it's a shame I was so close to third position."

Opel motorsport chief Volker Strycek added: "Our speed was right from the start of the weekend. A position on the front row could have been possible and I'm very optimistic for the race following this positive team result. The Nürburgring has hosted a DTM race for every season it has existed, so it is fantastic to learn that the grandstands are sold-out for Sunday."

The race started brilliantly for Opel, as Dumbreck made a daring but well-judged outbraking move at the first corner, grabbing second place behind poleman Gary Paffett, who would go on to win the race. Dumbreck couldn't hold on, however, as Mattias Ekström's Audi outbraked him at the hairpin on the opening lap, but Peter was able to keep series leader Christijan Albers of Mercedes at bay in third.

Dumbreck's hopes of a podium finish were denied at his first pitstop, however, as he lost a lot of time to his rivals, dropping him back to ninth. That meant Marcel Fässler was the top Opel in fourth, and he did well to keep Bernd Schneider of Mercedes behind him in the opening stint. Scheider then managed to jump ahead of Schneider during the first round of pitstops, meaning that Opels ran fourth and fifth.

Scheider then lost the position during the second stops, also dropping behind Tom Kristensen's Audi. Meanwhile, Fässler caught Albers' third-placed Mercedes, but some cunning driving from the Dutchman forced Marcel wide at Turn 1, allowing Schneider to pass both of them. Fässler passed Albers a few corners later, and spent the rest of the race chasing home the reigning champion, but fell just one second short at the finish and had to settle for fourth.

"It was a really tough race and I'm a little annoyed that I didn't finish third," said Fässler. "Christijan Albers looked to be in some trouble and I'm a bit disappointed with his driving, because he made sure Bernd benefited. But personally I am happy to have made a big step with the car and I hope to keep it going. I am confident ahead of the next race at Oschersleben, because I have won there before in the DTM."

Scheider finished sixth, despite a late clash at the chicane with former F1 star Jean Alesi's Mercedes. Dumbreck added another point to Opel's tally in eighth place, making it three Vectras in the top eight. Aiello finished ninth, with Reuter 12th after getting involved in a first lap crash. Jeroen Bleekemolen (Euroteam Astra V8) finished 14th after a clash with the Audi of Christian Abt. Heinz-Harald Frentzen was forced to retire after a number of collisions with other cars.

"To have four cars in the top 10 places is satisfying," said Strycek. "I am sure that we should have finished third, because Albers cut a chicane when he was in front of Marcel, so I'm certain he would have been penalised. Timo did a good job today, but it was a shame that Peter's engine cut out in the pits, but he did well to finish eighth."

-opel-

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Series DTM
Drivers Heinz-Harald Frentzen , Jean Alesi , Tom Kristensen , Laurent Aiello , Marcel Fassler , Bernd Schneider , Christijan Albers , Timo Scheider , Christian Abt , Mattias Ekström , Volker Strycek , Gary Paffett , Jeroen Bleekemolen