DTM

Third Opel driver assessment

To round off Opel's driver assessment in Albacete, Spain, Marcel Tiemann and Frank Diefenbacher got behind the steering wheel of the Opel Astra V8 Coupé. Earlier, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Timo Glock had finished their test programme. Following the...

To round off Opel's driver assessment in Albacete, Spain, Marcel Tiemann and Frank Diefenbacher got behind the steering wheel of the Opel Astra V8 Coupé. Earlier, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Timo Glock had finished their test programme. Following the changing weather conditions on the previous day, the weather was fine again on the final day, with sunshine and temperatures around 15 degrees.

"All drivers are at a considerable high level", Dr. Ulrich Pfisterer, head of the DTM project at the Opel Performance Center (OPC) expressed his initial opinion. "We have checked the major things like a qualifying situation, a long run and working out a set-up, and all drivers managed to convince us. All in all, this was a very interesting experience for us and certainly also for the drivers."

The Albacete test was, among others, a fixed part in Opel's young drivers' support programme in Formula 3. "At the beginning of the year, we have extended our involvement. Part of it is also to get young talents to take on bigger tasks and give them the opportunity to acquire new experiences in working on the set-up with the engineers with a touring car like the DTM-Astra. Therefore, we have integrated Timo Glock and Frank Diefenbacher, our works-drivers from this year in Formula 3, into the test programme at Albacete."

After Norberto Fontana and Emmanuel Collard on Wednesday, Timo Glock and Jeroen Bleekemolen first got the chance on Thursday morning to continue the test programme that they had started on Tuesday. Timo Glock (19), third in thus year's Formula 3-championship and Opel junior-works-driver, completed a total of 88 laps with Bartels' race car of this season. Dutchman Jeroen Bleekemolen, the runner-up of last year's FIA GT-championship, completed 81 laps, in- and out-laps not counted.

"Initially, I was having some trouble with the dimensions of the Astra. After all, a Formula 3 car is much smaller and you have a better view. Moreover, you sweat more in a DTM-car than in a single seater", Glock reported. "It was great fun and an important experience. I did quite a good job." Jeroen Bleekemolen, who was sweating notably less in the closed cockpit than the other drivers, said: "I was very happy with the invitation from Opel and I felt at ease right away. The DTM-Opel is very demanding, but neither the power nor the carbonfibre brake discs caused me any trouble."

At the end of the Albacete-test, that was carried out by the Opel Team Holzer, Marcel Tiemann got behind the wheel of the Bartels-race car, while Frank Diefenbacher got into the test car. Like Fontana, Colloard, Bleekemolen and Glock before, the two had plenty of time to get used to the 462 hp strong V8-Coupé before set-up, a qualifying and long-run were being handled, just like the situation of a start with starting lights. 28-year old Tiemann, winner of the 1996 Monaco Formula 3 Grand Prix with an Opel-Dallara, already has DTM-experience, but also needed to get used to the situation, because he had only done one race at the start of the season as a stand-in. "I am really satisfied", the Hamburg-born driver said after 69 laps. "I improved systematically. It was the first time for me to take part in such a test. It was very professional, I could work together with the engineer really well. That was a very good experience for me."

Frank Diefenbacher completed 71 laps and reported: "Initially, the size of the car was a bit unusual. The feed-back of the car is about as good as in Formula 3. I am very grateful to Opel for this test, because I have got many impressions that will certainly turn out to be useful."

Opel-works-driver Manuel Reuter completed his extensive test programme with Timo Scheider's race car of this season. "We have been doing a lot of work, systematically completing all our duties day after day, with a lot of 'back-to-back' testing to get clear results", said a satisfied Manuel Reuter.

-dtm-

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About this article
Series DTM
Drivers Marcel Tiemann , Emmanuel Collard , Manuel Reuter , Timo Scheider , Frank Diefenbacher , Jeroen Bleekemolen , Timo Glock , Norberto Fontana