More points for Opel in DTM's Italian Debut Opel was in the thick of the action all weekend as the ultra-competitive DTM made its first visit to Italy's new Adria circuit. A pair of points finishes for Peter Dumbreck (OPC Team Phoenix) and Alain...
More points for Opel in DTM's Italian Debut
Opel was in the thick of the action all weekend as the ultra-competitive DTM made its first visit to Italy's new Adria circuit. A pair of points finishes for Peter Dumbreck (OPC Team Phoenix) and Alain Menu (OPC Team Holzer), in sixth and eighth respectively, were the icing on the cake after a team performance which showed how the Astra V8 Coupes will soon be ready to challenge for podiums.
Dumbreck turned fifth on the grid into fourth on the track in the early laps, but was twice able to run as high as second in warm, sunny conditions that made the temperatures soar inside the DTM cockpits. The Phoenix team kept Dumbreck out for 16 laps, before performing a super-quick tyre change -- the fastest one of the day -- and refuel for the Scot's first scheduled pitstop. Showing how slick pit work can make a real difference to a race's outcome, that put him out ahead of Martin Tomczyk's Audi.
The unfolding strategy in an enthralling 47-lap race put Dumbreck sixth at the finish, thereby repeating his result in the Hockenheim season-opener two weeks ago. It moves him to seventh overall in the DTM driver standings and Phoenix to fifth in the team points with eight races still remaining.
"I think this shows we're getting closer," said Dumbreck. "It's been a big step to get this far and I think we're going to make further steps in the future. The race was harder than Hockenheim, but I enjoyed it and my next aim is to get on to the podium."
Menu and the Holzer squad took a different strategic approach to Dumbreck and Phoenix, with the Swiss ace making his first stop early in the race, then enjoying close fights with Tomczyk and Jean Alesi's Mercedes on either side of his second stop.
Ninth at the chequered flag for Joachim Winkelhock (OPC Euroteam) and 11th for DTM rookie Jeroen Bleekemolen added to a positive afternoon's work for Opel's six-car fleet.
Opel motorsport boss Volker Strycek expressed satisfaction with the weekend's results, but was also enthusiastic about the DTM's newest venue.
"It was our first time here and the racing was a lot better than I expected," he said. "I like this kind of race track and I think we should come back next year."
For Manuel Reuter (OPC Team Holzer) and Timo Scheider (OPC Team Phoenix), it was an afternoon of 'what if?' On the run to the first corner on the opening lap, both were involved in collisions that ended their hopes of top 10 finishes. A taped-up Scheider fought back to finish 15th, but Reuter was wheeled into the garage after two laps.
A day earlier, three Opel drivers were involved in Saturday afternoon's thrilling Super Pole session, when the 10 fastest drivers from a frenetic 25-minute qualifying session have a single flying lap to determine their starting grid position.
Dumbreck took a well-deserved fifth on the grid, despite a small mistake that cost him two tenths of a second. He was joined by Menu and Winkelhock, who lined up seventh and eighth respectively.
"Super Pole is great fun," said Scottish driver Dumbreck. "It's so close, you've got to concentrate really hard and try and find every single tenth in your car. I made a couple of small mistakes, but it's still a handy place to be."
"This is a promising result," added Strycek after qualifying. "Peter did a great middle section on his flying lap and could easily have been in the first two rows, but with three drivers in the top 10 I am certainly not unhappy."
The Astra V8 Coupes had also shown well in testing and the pre-race practice sessions, with Menu and Jeroen Bleekemolen (OPC Euroteam) placing fourth and sixth in Saturday's wet free practice session.
The DTM teams now head back to Germany, where round three of the spectacular DTM takes place at the Nurburgring on May 25.