Following bright sunshine and temperatures in excess of 20 degrees, the Opel-team surprisingly was woken up by heavy rain showers at the second day of testing in Albacete, Spain. The track dried off only slowly, so that the continuation of the drivers' assessment initially had to be postponed, as it would not have been fair to compare the situations with such varying conditions. As another rain shower came down in the early afternoon, only Argentine Norberto Fontana and Frenchman Emmanuel Collard came to drive, contrarily to the original plan. Dutchman Jeroen Bleekemolen and German Timo Glock are to continue their test programme later in the week.
At the 3.5 km long track, Fontana drove 92 laps with Bartels' race car of the current season (RCO 27), while Collard completed 65 laps with the Opel test car (RCO 21), not counting the in- and out-laps. Both completed a programme that is the same for all participants in the assessment: all divers are starting with cars that have an identical set-up and firstly have plenty of opportunity to get used to the 462 hp strong Opel Astra V8 Coupé. Then, changes are being made on the set-up based upon the comments of the drivers, which then have to be judged by the drivers afterwards. Firstly, a set-up for a qualifying is being worked out and then the drivers have to set their fastest time with a fresh set of tyres. In the next step, a set-up for a long-run is being determined. The RCO 27 is being handled by vehicle engineer Markus Endhart, while Jody Eggington is in charge of the RCO 21.
"How quickly a driver can set a fast lap time, how constant he is on a long-run and how precise his comments are, plus his driving style -- these are some of the elements that are significant for the assessment of a driver", says Dr. Ulrich Pfisterer, head of the DTM project at the Opel Performance Center (OPC).
"I have been driving a touring car for the first time. The change from the Cadillac sportscar is huge, because with the DTM-Opel, you have to drive very cleanly and smoothly, while with the Cadillac, you can and you have to push hard", Emmanuel Collard (33) described. "But this car is great fun to drive and I would have loved to have done some more laps. I am really grateful to Opel for this testing opportunity. I really appreciate the DTM and after this experience, I sincerely would like to be part of it."
Norberto Fontana (27), who flew back to Buenos Aires on Wednesday evening to take part in a round of the Argentine touring car championship this week-end, was satisfied as well. "This was a good experience. Especially the brakes impressed me, they have an incredible bite. The power is considerable, too. But one needs some time to get used to the specific characteristics of a DTM-car", said the former F1- and CART-driver, who paid a visit to the DTM at the A1-Ring early September. "Of course, the DTM is very interesting and there seems to be a lot of echo."
Together with engineer Martin Meijs, Opel-works-driver Manuel Reuter continued the test programme with Timo Scheider's race car (RCO 25) on Wednesday. The Opel Team Holzer is responsible for the running of the three V8 Coupés in Albacete.