DTM - Lausitz stopped by the rain.

What should have been a spectacular debut for the DTM on the all-new EuroSpeedway Lausitz in eastern Germany was washed out by torrential rain that forced the cancellation of both races on safety grounds.

Heavy continuous rain had caused standing water to accumulate on many corners and even on the straights of the 4.5 km combined oval/infield circuit, making the cars aquaplane. But after consultation between race director Roland Bruynseraede and driver safety representatives, including Opel's Manuel Reuter, the decision was taken to start race one with the cars behind the safety car until conditions approved.

After eight laps at slow speed, and with conditions worsening, it was decided to stop the race and place the cars in the pitlane. After another hour with no let-up to the downpour in sight, the decision was taken to abandon both races.

"It's disappointing for the spectators," said Reuter, "But it was absolutely the right decision to take. We started behind the safety car to see if the rain would ease and the water begin to disperse, but it actually rained harder. When we decided to stop, the conditions were so bad that we were aquaplaning at really low speed."

Every one of Opel's eight-driver DTM squad had praised the brand new track for its challenging mix of corners and Opel sports chief Volker Strycek had been looking forward to a competitive pair of races for his fleet of V8 Coupes. Uwe Alzen (Opel Team Holzer) had qualified his car for the second row in the grid, and with Eric Helary (Opel Team Holzer), Stefano Modena (Opel Euroteam) and young driver Timo Scheider (Opel Team Holzer) all in the top 10, things had looked promising before the rain.

"It's a shame because I think Opel and the fans would have had a great day today," said Strycek, "But we have to think about safety first. The last thing we need is a big accident and well-experienced Roland Bruynseraede did a fantastic job of handling the situation.

"What I must say is that the Lausitzring has done a great job and although this may seem like a small disaster, it's a problem of the weather - not of the race circuit."