Second position in DTM crowns great week for Opel Seven days after its historic victory in the Nurburgring 24 Hours, Opel had more reason to celebrate in the DTM at EuroSpeedway Lausitz on Sunday, as Peter Dumbreck (OPC Team Phoenix) finished in...
Second position in DTM crowns great week for Opel
Seven days after its historic victory in the Nurburgring 24 Hours, Opel had more reason to celebrate in the DTM at EuroSpeedway Lausitz on Sunday, as Peter Dumbreck (OPC Team Phoenix) finished in second place - the best result Opel has scored in over two years in Europe's fastest touring car series.
The omens looked good from free practice on Friday, when Dumbreck topped the timesheets in the first test - the first time this year that an Astra V8 Coupe has led the way in an official DTM session. That took place using the banked Turn 1 and, although Opel was satisfied with its own cars following Alain Menu (OPC Team Holzer) second fastest in the second test session, it agreed with the other DTM manufacturers, Audi and Mercedes-Benz, not to use the corner in qualifying and on raceday due to safety reasons after two Audis suffered heavy crashes there. Instead the DTM returned to the Grand Prix circuit.
Dumbreck led the Opel charge in qualifying, taking third position on the grid in his red Astra V8 Coupé. He was backed up by team mate Timo Scheider and Alain Menu, who locked out the third row of the grid.
Dumbreck made a great start to pass the Audi of Mattias Ekstrom before the first corner, and the Scottish driver gave chase to leader, Bernd Schneider. But the multiple DTM champion's Mercedes was just too strong and, despite some incredibly fast pitstops by OPC Team Phoenix and consistent lap times, Dumbreck had to settle for second, just 6.8secs behind the winner.
"This result almost feels like a win for us," said Dumbreck. "After winning the 24-hour race last weekend, it's another demonstration of how Opel is going in the right direction. Now I want to push harder in the rest of the season and, with a little bit of luck, a win is not too far away."
Backing up the Scot's excellent performance was Scheider, who battled up to fourth after making a poor start. He was also helped by some swift pitstops, but just couldn't find a way past Ekstrom to grab the final place on the podium and had to settle for fourth five tenth of a seconds behind - matching his best ever result in the series.
"I was happy that my consistency was good in the race," said Scheider. "I had no chance to pass Ekstrom without him making an error, because it is very difficult to overtake here."
Menu finished sixth, an amazing result given that he spun twice during the race. The first lost him time after he was battling for third with Ekstrom, but the second was caused when Marcel Fassler's Mercedes hit him as it left the pit lane exit. "I was on for a podium, for sure, without these problems," said Menu.
On the back of its success last weekend Opel motorsport director Volker Strycek, who was also one of the winning drivers, demonstrated one of the Nurburgring 24 Hour Astras at Lausitz before the start of the Lausitz DTM race, which was held in front of 62,000 fans. The winning car itself, which was driven by Manuel Reuter, Timo Scheider, Marcel Tiemann and Volker Strycek, meanwhile has pride of place on display at Opel's headquarters at Russelsheim.
After the DTM race, Strycek said: "It is very nice to continue our successful ways we started at the season opener in Hockenheim. For sure everybody has been inspired by our Nurburgring success, and things worked out very well for us again this weekend. We showed from practice that we were really quick, and I'm very proud of the teams and drivers."
Things didn't go to plan for all the Opel drivers, however. Manuel Reuter (OPC Team Holzer) was judged to have jumped the start and finished 12th after a drive-through penalty, one place behind Joachim Winkelhock (OPC Euroteam), who had a lonely race.
Dutch rookie Jeroen Bleekemolen's weekend ended in disappointment when an electrical problem stranded his OPC Euroteam car near the end of the race, but he can look back on a weekend where he shone in practice on Saturday, setting the second fastest time. He was also third quickest in the raceday warm-up session.