German Touring Car Masters (DTM) Preview - DTM Round 6 - Lausitz EuroSpeedway, September 3
A breath of wind from America will blow over the Opel team when the sixth round of the German Touring Car Masters (DTM) takes place at the newly-opened EuroSpeedway Lausitz (September 1/3). The American style circuit is not just the only oval track in Germany, but offers drivers a new vastness and breadth that until now was only known across the Atlantic.
"The facility is mega-gigantic," enthused Volker Strycek, head of Opel motorsports. "We will experience a completely new atmosphere." The staging of the DTM is the first race meeting on the multi-function track. This makes the 4.5 kilometre Grand Prix course of the Lausitz EuroSpeedway absolutely new ground for the eight drivers of the Opel V8 Coupe.
After a weekend with no points at the Sachsenring and two fifth places at the Nurburgring, Manuel Reuter - in third place as Opel's highest placed driver in the DTM points standings - has not lost his determination to work hard for points at Lausitz. "We will fight on," declared the twice race-winner of the season. "The gap has of course grown, but it is not yet impossible." In fact, the cards have all been re-shuffled on the Lausitz EuroSpeedway as the Grand Prix Course, which runs on the in-field of the triple oval is a completely clean sheet for all DTM teams.
The official DTM tests on August 22/23 provided the only opportunity of gaining an initial impression of the track before the race weekend. "The preliminary tests were extremely important," according to Strycek. "There was a lot to learn and to work out."
In the tests, only one driver took the asphalt of the mega racing track below his wheels for the second time: Joachim Winkelhock (Opel team Holzer) had entered the history of the Lausitz EuroSpeedway even before the first race - as the first racing driver to drive his car around the Grand Prix course. However, the victor of the Norisring has not gained a test advantage by it, because the laps in the red Opel V8 Coupe only served for photography and were completed at an appropriately lower speed. "I drove round only slowly and therefore, could not assess the circuit at all," explained Winkelhock. "But, I can imagine that a key place will be at the end of the start-finish straight where you turn from the wide, fast stretch of the oval left into the narrow in-field".
The fact that the stretch of the EuroSpeedway goes around to the left, that is, anti-clockwise - just like the American pattern - may be unusual for most of the drivers. The triple oval, too, the main attraction of the 367 hectare facility, is orientated towards American sports racing which will move to Lausitz with a race for the American Champ Car Series from 2001. The EuroSpeedway can offer, in all, three different types of course with the oval, the Grand Prix course and a connection for long-distance races.
Volker Strycek is certain: "It is a completely new dimension in race tracks, which offers so many options". During any one season you can have three championship races and a completely different race track each time."
The Opel teams Holzer (Uwe Alzen, Joachim Winkelhock, Eric Helary, Timo Scheider) Phoenix, (Michael Bartels, Manuel Reuter), Irmscher (Christian Menzel) and Euroteam (Stefano Modena) can look forward to an imposing back-drop and the spectators to a completely new experience of racing. The entire course is visible from almost all grandstand places - that, too, is unique in Germany. "It is good to have a completely new track in the programme", said Euroteam driver Stefano Modena. "That will bring a breath of fresh air and show that something is being done in the DTM".