Norberto Fontana, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Emanuel Collard and Timo Glock - these four drivers drove their first laps with the Opel Astra V8 Coupé at the race track in Albacete on Tuesday. It was the start of the driver assessment of the Opel Performance Center (OPC) in Spain. "In Albacete, and maybe also at another occasion, we want to give some drivers the chance to drive our DTM-car and also get an impression about their performance", says Opel motorsport director Volker Strycek. "This, however, does not mean that any of these drivers will necessarily be racing in the DTM for us next year."
Argentine Fontana, Dutchman Bleekemolen, Frenchman Collard and German Glock made a good impression right away. "All four drivers took on their task in a very professional way, they quickly were setting fast lap times and, together with the engineers involved, they analysed the different changes on the car in a sensible way", was the initial conclusion of Dr. Ulrich Pfisterer, head of the DTM project at the Opel Performance Center (OPC) and in charge of the assessment.
Norberto Fontana, who became German Formula 3-champion with Opel and, after involvements in Formula 1 and CART now competing in the Argentine touring car championship, opened the test with this year's race car of Michael Bartels, that was later taken over by Formula 3-graduate and Opel junior works-driver Timo Glock.
Initially, Jeroen Bleekemolen, who has been driving F3 and touring cars, was driving the test car at the 3.5 km long track, the car just like Bartels' coupe sporting the livery of Opel-sponsor "Vitafone". Later on, Emanuel Collard, who drove a Cadillac in the ALMS, completed a few initial laps with the test car. All four drivers continued their test on Wednesday before two further drivers joined the test programme.
In the morning, Opel works-driver Timo Scheider had warmed the two Vitaphone-Astras up during a couple of laps. Later on, the 23-year old informed the test candidates about the "secrets" of the DTM-Opel. Scheider's race car, the P.M.-coupe, is being driven in Albacete by Manuel Reuter, who is carrying out several test programmes. The three 462 hp strong Astra V8 Coupés are being run in Spain by the Opel Team Holzer under the direction of Didier Debae.