With a new structure and an advanced development of the Astra V8 CoupÃ© Opel are preparing for the 2003 season of the German Touring Car Masters (DTM). Signing Wiet Huidekoper as technical director and a changed approach regarding the teams and ...
With a new structure and an advanced development of the Astra V8 Coupé Opel are preparing for the 2003 season of the German Touring Car Masters (DTM). Signing Wiet Huidekoper as technical director and a changed approach regarding the teams and drivers both demonstrate Opel's strong focus on the DTM within the company's 2003 motorsport programme, which includes Opel's traditional commitment to Formula 3, rallying and clubsport as well.
"The DTM has seen another boost of its national and international standing. Immense popularity with trackside fans as well as TV audiences and the high calibre of technical and sporting competition are both distinctive traits of this series," says Volker Strycek, Opel motorsport director and, along with Berndt Wiesenhütter, managing director of Opel Performance Center GmbH (OPC). "We intend to do justice to the high standards of the DTM, being bound and determined to achieve success for the Opel brand with fresh thinking and fast racing cars."
Opel-Teams Holzer, Phoenix and Euroteam each to contest two cars Last Monday (25 November 2002) already saw the roll-out of the new Opel Astra V8 Coupé, driven by Alain Menu. In Vallelunga, Italy, Opel's new contender for the 2003 DTM successfully passed its first test.
The 2003 Astra V8 Coupé is a consistent advanced development of its predecessor. "Based on the experience and findings gained during the previous season, we have subjected our car to a host of detailed improvements," says motorsport director Strycek. "Wiet Huidekoper will be continuing this advanced development in a pinpointed effort." The vehicle features a modified space frame and is powered by an Opel four-litre eight-cylinder engine that has also undergone further development.
For the DTM 2003, a total of five new Opel Astra V8 Coupés will be built. Two of the new cars will be run by Opel Team Holzer (Augsburg) and Opel Team Phoenix (Meuspath) respectively, whilst the fifth will be used as a test car. Opel Euroteam (Arese/Italy) will be contesting two 2002 cars.
Menu and Reuter confirmed as drivers -- plans include junior driver OPC have renewed their contracts with Manuel Reuter and Alain Menu. This means that two Opel works drivers have been 'locked in' so far for the 2003 DTM. Opel's contract with Manuel Reuter (40), a native of Mainz, Germany, now living in Austria, already dates back to 1992. In 1996, the two-time winner of Le Mans won the FIA International Touring Car Championship (ITC) in an Opel Calibra V6. In 2000, he was DTM vice-champion in an Astra V8 Coupé. The Swiss Alain Menu (39), who is living in the UK, has been racing for Opel since 2001. His track record includes winning the British Touring Car Championship on two occasions. Menu and Reuter will be contesting the 2003 Astra, although their respective assignments to teams Holzer and Phoenix have not yet been decided.
"We'll definitely be seeing a new face here and there among Opel's line-up," says Volker Strycek. During test drives in Albacete, Spain, and in Vallelunga Opel assessed a total of nine drivers. "In any event, there'll be at least one young talent included in our ranks. Someone we intend to promote and develop within the Opel Euroteam. For us, this means the consistent continuation of our long-standing and successful effort of promoting young talent."