The Opel Astra V8 Coup? has successfully completed an endurance test in Jerez de la Frontera in Spain. Almost without any trouble, Opel works-drivers Manuel Reuter and Timo Scheider, as well as Opel motorsport director Volker Strycek drove two times twelve hours with the DTM touring car, prepared by the Opel Team Phoenix, at the former Grand Prix-track in the south of Spain. "Mechanically, the Astra ran like clockwork", Volker Strycek showed himself satisfied. "A broken alternator belt, that occurred in the early stages of the endurance test already, was the only major problem, which we could solve quickly."
"To be honest, I am surprised that especially the gearbox and the drivetrain survived the torture in Jerez, where especially the running components and the brakes are under pressure, without any outward signs of tear or stress. After all, these cars have been developed for the 100 km sprint races in the DTM, rather than for endurance racing. But the car ran immaculately until the final minute", said Timo Scheider, who extended his Opel contract just before Christmas and thus will be driving for Opel in the 2003 DTM, next to Manuel Reuter and Alain Menu.
However, Reuter, Scheider and Strycek were having some problems with the seating position and during the dark evening hours the light of the V8 Coup?, that had not yet been optimised. "The DTM-cars do not have adjustable racing seats, as usual, but individually adapted bucket seats that can't be changed in position. The current compromise in the seating position was not right, all three drivers were complaining about back problems", said Manuel Reuter.
Relief for the three drivers was brought by the medical and physiotherapy department of the German football champions, Borussia Dortmund, that was located in the adjacent hotel for a training camp. "A big hand especially to Borussia's physiotherapist Ralph Frank, who has been a great help for us as the drivers." Several Borussia-players, including German national team members Kehl, Ricken and Metzelder, used the chance and came into the Opel pit box for a brief visit during a break in their training schedule.
At this endurance test in Jerez -- a brief roll-out took place after the Formula 1-tests on Friday had finished, with running on Saturday and Sunday from 8.00 till 20.00 h -- Opel used the DTM car that was raced by Joachim Winkelhock last year, the same car that had also been used for the final test at the Nordschleife mid-November. "The car was largely in a 24-hour trim, which means it had the minimum weight of 1,250 kg", says Phoenix-engineer J?rgen Jungklaus. "However, we were still using the standard tank from the DTM, so that we had to come in approximately every 45 minutes for re-fuelling. We combined these stops with a driver change, as there was a lot of pressure on the drivers on this demanding track. For the 24-hour race, we will be fitting a 120 litre tank, according to the regulations."
Phoenix team principal Ernst Moser summed up: "Although by and large, the test went well, we still have a lot of work waiting for us in order to be well prepared for this endurance classic. After all, in a 24-hour race, it is often the small details and the so-called two-pence parts that decide about victory or defeat."