DTM

Lausitz: Opel race report

Opel battles through tough test at EuroSpeedway Lausitz Opel endured its most difficult weekend for some time in the DTM at EuroSpeedway Lausitz on Sunday. Only one of its four Vectra GTS racecars was able to finish in the top 10, while its ...

Opel battles through tough test at EuroSpeedway Lausitz

Opel endured its most difficult weekend for some time in the DTM at EuroSpeedway Lausitz on Sunday. Only one of its four Vectra GTS racecars was able to finish in the top 10, while its fastest driver of the weekend, Marcel Fässler, was knocked into a spin by former Formula 1 racer Allan McNish of Audi, losing its chance to score any points. Laurent Aiello scored its best result in 10th position in a race watched by 78,000 spectators.

Opel's struggle began in testing on Friday, when Fässler was the fastest Vectra GTS in 13th in the first session, while Heinz-Harald Frentzen was the best Opel driver in 12th in the second period. Fässler made a step forward on Saturday morning, and although he was only 12th fastest, he was less than half a second off the quickest time.

The Swiss ace made another performance jump in qualifying, his ninth best time landing him a spot in the all-important Super Pole session. Another good lap produced an eighth place starting position; an excellent result given the situation.

"We failed to make best use of the tyres in testing, so we changed several things on the car for qualifying," said Fässler. "This was enough to at least make the Super Pole. But there is still a lot of work to do."

Opel's motorsport chief Volker Strycek added: "I am unhappy about our positions. Marcel did a fantastic job to achieve a position in the first four rows, but our other drivers are too far back. We were not able to get good lap times on new tyres, and we have to work on this. Our performance is not right."

Former ITC champion Manuel Reuter missed out on Super Pole by less than two-tenths of a second, and would start 15th. He said: "In my second qualifying run we improved by one second compared to the first one. On the final go, we changed something slightly but this provoked a tendency for oversteer, so I missed out on Super Pole."

Ex-Formula 1 star Heinz-Harald Frentzen would start 17th and the final Opel, that of 2002 DTM champion Laurent Aiello, in 20th. Frentzen said: "I improved on my first run by half a second, but this was not enough." Aiello added: "I have no explanation why I suddenly had problems under braking. That car was jumping on the bumps, which locks the wheels under braking. I had no chance to set a proper time."

After a positive morning warm-up session, Fässler made a bad start in the race, dropping to 10th position on the opening lap. He became stuck behind the Audi of Frank Stippler and opted for an early first pitstop, but was unable to profit from this when he was tapped into a spin by an ambitious move from Audi's Allan McNish on lap 23, costing him a huge amount of time as he recovered. McNish was forced to retire due the collision, but Fässler rejoined to gain more data, finishing 13th.

Reuter was chasing through the pack when he spun in the midst of a big battle, losing three laps while he was towed out of a gravel trap. Frentzen was also delayed when a right-rear wheelnut jammed during his first pitstop. He would finish directly behind Fässler in 14th, while Reuter was classified 16th.

Aiello was the top Opel runner, battling his way through from last position on the grid. The Frenchman grabbed 10th position on the very last lap. "Finishing 10th from 20th on the grid is not bad, and it showed we were on the pace in the race, but the weekend has been disappointing on the whole," said Aiello. "We have been working on the problems with using the new tyres, and hopefully we can have a better weekend in Spa."

Summing up the race, Strycek said: "It was just not our weekend here. Fässler was the only one of our drivers who could have scored a point, but he was pushed off. Laurent did a very good job to come through the field, but we just didn't have enough speed here, and the result reflects that."

Looking ahead to the next race at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, Strycek said: "We spent four days testing there and we were quite quick. We are feeling a bit better about our chances, and we lose another 10-kilos of weight, so let's see what we can do."

-opel-

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About this article
Series DTM
Drivers Heinz-Harald Frentzen , Allan McNish , Laurent Aiello , Marcel Fassler , Manuel Reuter , Volker Strycek , Frank Stippler