'Final sprint' Towards the end of the 2003 DTM season, events will once again be following each other in quick succession: The A1-Ring in Austria, Zandvoort in the Netherlands and, ultimately, Hockenheim -- the 'final sprint' in Europe's most ...
Towards the end of the 2003 DTM season, events will once again be following each other in quick succession: The A1-Ring in Austria, Zandvoort in the Netherlands and, ultimately, Hockenheim -- the 'final sprint' in Europe's most prestigious touring car series will feature three races within four weeks' time. Opel have prepared themselves well for this challenge in order to reach their stated goal of the season, to clinch podium positions, preferably the very top.
Showdown at the A1-Ring:
The eighth DTM run on the first weekend of September -- broadcast live on ARD -- will likely be the last DTM event to be staged in Austria for some time. At the end of the month, ÖAMTC, the Austrian automobile association, will hand over the GP circuit to its new owners, and the alteration project will start.
The DTM will thus mark a true showdown at this circuit in the picturesque Styrian landscape north of Graz. The 4.326-kilometre track, with 40 laps (173.040 km) to be driven in the race, is among the venues which have seen some of the most exciting events. The Opel DTM drivers, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Peter Dumbreck, Alain Menu, Manuel Reuter, Timo Scheider and Joachim Winkelhock, all agree: "This circuit will be leaving a void on the calendar."
Opel have used the three weeks between the Nürburgring and the A1-Ring races for tests at two different venues. In Vallelunga, Italy, Manuel Reuter and Alain Menu (both OPC Team Holzer) performed tyre tests, whilst Opel test driver Marcel Tiemann completed an independent development programme with the test car. Last week, Peter Dumbreck and Timo Scheider (both OPC Team Phoenix) went to Hockenheim (short circuit) to try out various setup configurations.
At the Nürburgring Timo Scheider finished seventh as the best-placed of the Opel drivers' squad. Teammate Peter Dumbreck, for the first time, was unable to score any points in a most unfortunate race. In the DTM drivers' standings Dumbreck now is ranking seventh, and Scheider eighth, ahead of Menu. OPC Team Phoenix are third in the DTM teams' standings.
Volker Strycek, Opel motorsport director on the DTM's 'final sprint'
"The races at A1-Ring, Zandvoort and Hockenheim, three highly attractive circuits with different characteristics, make for a thrilling final sprint. These events are well suited for the DTM, which most recently at the Nürburgring, in conjunction with the boxing world championship match, gave ample proof of the fascination it holds. An average of 1.5 million TV viewers of live broadcasts and nearly 58,000 trackside spectators during the season underline the series' growing appeal. Opel's goal for the final races remains the same as before: to clinch podium positions, to win races."
Peter Dumbreck (OPC Team Phoenix) on OPC Team Phoenix, Opel and the DTM:
"Even though an unfortunate race at the Nürburgring saw me finish an event without points for the first time, I have every reason to be satisfied with the way the season has gone for me so far. I'm very comfortable with Opel and with OPC Team Phoenix. Everything at Phoenix is very well organised, and the 'chemistry' is right. Opel are giving me the opportunity to fulfil my ambitions of receiving recognition as a racing driver in the DTM - and what's more, at a time when the prestige of the DTM is constantly rising. Since my first race in 2000, I've been able to get first-hand experience of all the developments this series has seen. It's a great feeling to be part of this."
Manuel Reuter (OPC Team Holzer) on the A1-Ring 'moratorium':
"It's really a pity that -- at least for the time being -- this will be the last race at the A1 Ring, which will be handed over to new owners as well as being rebuilt at the end of September. In the past two years, the DTM has seen some spectacular races at this circuit. That the Austrian TV channel ORF and its TW1 sports channel will be airing live broadcasts from the A1-Ring for the first time shows that the DTM has established itself in Austria. This is another reason why this circuit will leave a void on the calendar. I do hope that the DTM will soon be able to return to the A1-Ring."
Timo Scheider (OPC Team Phoenix) on the particular challenges of the A1-Ring:
"For me, the A1-Ring is a 'home match' only as far as the country is concerned. Altach, the town in which I live, is well over 560 kilometres away from the A1-Ring -- so it's not really a 'home circuit' for me, especially considering the fact that I've not been living in Austria for as long as Manuel Reuter for example. Much more important, though: I like the A1-Ring."
"If the car has an optimum setup, it's great fun to race here. Whilst the first corner after the start and finish line has become really fast, the Remus-Kurve at the end of the uphill stretch represents a true challenge: You're going really fast here, and braking while going uphill is altogether different than on a flat straight, as, naturally, you can't see the apex properly from below."
"The A1-Ring doesn't offer a large choice of lines. The slipstream duels at the end of the straight promise to be particularly thrilling and provide spectacular opportunities to overtake under braking. Finding the right setup is a challenging task for both the drivers and the engineers. Whilst during the first part you need to be going at top speed, maximum downforce is necessary at the end of the lap. Properly balancing these two conflicting needs at this great track is definitely not easy."