Opel drivers Dumbreck and Menu take points after impressive performances Opel maintained its positive start to its 2003 DTM campaign with a brace of points scoring finishes in the third round of the championship at the famous Nurburgring circuit...
Opel drivers Dumbreck and Menu take points after impressive performances
Opel maintained its positive start to its 2003 DTM campaign with a brace of points scoring finishes in the third round of the championship at the famous Nurburgring circuit in the Eifel region of Germany. Peter Dumbreck and Alain Menu finished fifth and sixth, but had looked on course for the podium early on.
Following the last round at the new Adria circuit, Opel remained in Italy to test further developments on its Astra V8 Coupe at the Vallelunga track. After recording positive results, Opel arrived at the Nurburgring, the scene of many Opel DTM triumphs in the past, with hopes of adding to its points tally.
Three of Opel's six-car team were quick enough to enter the Top 10 Super Pole qualifying session - including its impressive Dutch rookie Jeroen Bleekemolen (OPC Euroteam). Menu produced the best effort in his OPC Holzer car to place fifth on the grid, although the Swiss driver believed it should have been even better. "The lap was very good until the last corner," said Menu, who was second fastest overall in Saturday's free practice session. "I got on the power and just lost the rear end, so it could have been even better. I think we could have been third today, at least on the second row, but it shows we have made progress."
Opel motorsport director Volker Strycek said: "The Super Pole times were very tight but we just lost out. Being right at the front end of the grid was possible today, but we have shown we are nearer to the pace of the opposition."
Menu was the focus of attention in the early stages of the race, holding third position after an excellent first mandatory pitstop, despite the attention of multiple DTM champion Bernd Schneider of Mercedes. Schneider had already affected Opel's race by colliding with Dumbreck (OPC Team Phoenix) on the approach to the NGK chicane on the first lap that sent Peter's car spinning off the track.
Another amazingly fast pit stop looked to have assured Menu of third, but the double British Touring Car Champion crossed the white line at the end of the pit lane, and was given a drive-through pit penalty which dropped him down to eighth.
The star of the show was now Dumbreck, who made a brilliant recovery from his early setback to 18th position. The Scottish driver's lap times were often quicker than race winner Christijan Albers (Mercedes) and he tigered his way through the pack to finish in a well earned fifth position - just 3.8s behind his opening lap assailant Schneider. Menu also fought back from his penalty to finish sixth.
Dumbreck said: "I was more than happy with the pace of our car today. It was very consistent in the race and I'm happy about where we are going into the next race weekend. It was a shame about what happened with Bernd, I didn't want to let him pass but he didn't want to move so we touched and I spun. We also touched at the first corner, and I think without those incidents I could have made the podium today. That is the goal for next time."
Of the other Opel drivers, Manuel Reuter just lost out on a points finish in the closing stages to finish ninth, ahead of OPC Euroteam pairing Joachim Winkelhock and Bleekemolen. Timo Scheider (OPC Team Phoenix) finished in 13th position.
"We had a very good performance today," added Strycek. "I lost count of how many fastest laps Peter set after that, so it was very positive. With regard to Alain's penalty, he just made a mistake and he agreed with it."
Strycek added: "All weekend we have been excited about our pace, and now I think we can say we are more or less on the pace of the opposition. We are now right in the exhaust of the leaders."
The next round of the DTM is held at EuroSpeedway Lausitz on June 8.
Opel will now turn its attention to next weekend's Nurburgring 24 Hours, in which it will enter two Astras built and run by OPC Team Phoenix. It will face works opposition from Audi and BMW, plus strong privateer teams with Chrysler Viper and Porsche machinery around the daunting Nordschleife layout. Manuel Reuter, Timo Scheider, Marcel Tiemann and Volker Strycek will drive the #5-car, Peter Dumbreck, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Christian Menzel and Volker Strycek the #6-car.