The 2000 DTM season enters its final quarter with a second visit to the 3.667 kilometre-long track at Oschersleben circuit on September 24. The Opel teams, Holzer and Phoenix in particular, will be taking good memories with them: at their first appearance at Oschersleben in June, Manuel Reuter (Opel Team Phoenix) took victory ahead of Joachim Winkelhock (Opel Team Holzer) twice in the race results.
"Of course you are always more than happy to return to the place where your car has done so well," enthuses Reuter about Oschersleben. Holding third place in the championship, the plan is still the same for the two-time season winner: full speed ahead! "After the lows come the highs," says Reuter, "and we certainly have a good foundation for it in Oschersleben."
One of the low points of the last season, not only for the Opel teams, was the racing premier on the EuroSpeedway at Lausitz, which fell through due to heavy rainfall. The first DTM race at Lausitz only lasted eight slow laps behind the Safety Car, an Opel coupe, and the second race did not even start due to the continued risk of aquaplaning. "It was a bitter, but vital decision as safety simply must come first," commented Opel race manager, Volker Strycek. "I was especially sorry for the spectators. But that is why I am particularly looking forward to providing our fans with some real racing action from the Opel teams in Oschersleben."
Joachim Winkelhock too is hoping the sun will be shining for the Opel V8 Coupes again. "It would be great if we could get as good a result as we got in June," says the Holzer driver, but he gives a caution too. "However, Mercedes has made up a lot of ground since the beginning of the season."
Winkelhock's team-mate, Uwe Alzen, the best Opel driver at Lausitz, who came fourth in the qualifying round, is quietly confident. "We are going to Oschersleben with our team sorted out. Now it is just a matter of reducing the distance between us and Mercedes. The entire Opel family has been working very hard towards this goal, that is why we need a bit of luck on our side in the new DTM, especially in qualifying."
A good starting position is especially important in Oschersleben, because the track, which is extremely narrow in parts, does not provide many opportunities for overtaking. On the last visit both Holzer drivers, Joachim Winkelhock and Eric Helary, sat on the first two rows of the starting grid with Manuel Reuter and his Phoenix team-mate Michael Bartels. "Our aim has to be to compound this performance," says Michael Bartels. "The data from the tests and races will certainly help us do that."
Since there were no countable results or points at Lausitz, the situation in the championship at Oschersleben remains the same as the status after the Nurburgring. That means that Manuel Reuter in third place still has to make up the 51 points that he is trailing behind the leader, Bernd Schneider (Mercedes). With six of the races still to come this will certainly be a difficult, although not impossible, task. "The two double victories at the start of the season were a great encouragement for everyone," says motivated Opel race manager, Volker Strycek. "We are going to Oschersleben in our best battle mode - we want to keep the championship exciting to the end." ENDS