Points for Opel in front of record DTM crowd In front of a record crowd in excess of 132,000 spectators, Opel scored more points in its DTM campaign at the famous Norisring street circuit in Nuremberg, Germany. Scotland's Peter Dumbreck finished...
Points for Opel in front of record DTM crowd
In front of a record crowd in excess of 132,000 spectators, Opel scored more points in its DTM campaign at the famous Norisring street circuit in Nuremberg, Germany. Scotland's Peter Dumbreck finished seventh after a tough and sometimes bruising battle, but there was heartbreak for Timo Scheider, who led the race in his Vectra GTS V8 for nine laps until propshaft failure put him out just after he made his first pitstop.
The weekend began well, with Dumbreck (OPC Team Phoenix) immediately on the pace during Friday's test sessions. He ended the day fifth quickest overall, 0.396secs slower than the fastest Mercedes C-Class of former F1 star Jean Alesi. Scheider was also in the top 10 in his OPC Team Holzer car, while Marcel Fässler (OPC Team Phoenix) also showed excellent form in the opening test on Friday, setting the fifth fastest time of that session.
Qualifying started badly, however, with only Scheider able to make it into the Super Pole session, as Manuel Reuter (OPC Team Holzer) and Laurent Aiello (OPC Team Phoenix) narrowly missed the cut to be in the top 10. Scheider made up for this with a brilliant lap time that was just 0.246s away from pole position. It was enough to give him fourth place on the grid.
"I have changed my mental approach to qualifying this year and it is working well," said Scheider. "The laps are coming together much better. But I'd really like to thank the team for this performance as well, because they have worked very hard on getting the pace out of the car."
Opel's motorsport chief Volker Strycek had mixed feelings over his team's qualifying performance, and wished for better fortunes in Sunday's race.
"A big hand to Timo, his lap was really great," said Strycek. "All his sectors were his personal best of the weekend, so it shows we can achieve good results. He did a brilliant job and I am proud of him. I am a bit worried about the rest of the team, however. Our next car is outside the top 10, and I hope there are no problems at the first corner, because there is no margin for error here."
From fourth on the grid, Scheider found himself shuffled back to sixth position on the opening lap. He re-passed six-time Le Mans 24 Hour winner Tom Kristensen (Audi) on lap three, and then took advantage of a clever strategy that allowed him to lead the race for nine laps, after the works Mercedes that were ahead of him made the first of their mandatory pitstops.
Scheider made his first stop on lap 20, but was back in the pits a lap later with a broken propshaft that spelled retirement from the race and the end of his hopes of a podium finish.
Dumbreck was now the top Opel runner, but he was delayed when he spun at Dutzendteich hairpin attempting to pass the Mercedes of Stefan Mücke. Dumbreck recovered quickly, however, and engaged in a fantastic late battle with Kristensen, crossing the line in seventh position at the end of a punishing race. Adding further to Opel's tally, Manuel Reuter came through to score a point for his eighth place finish.
Elsewhere there was less fortune. Heinz-Harald Frentzen (OPC Team Holzer) crashed out of the race on lap six as he lost control after locking up under braking, taking Fässler with him. Frenchman Aiello was also forced to retire from the race with a driveshaft problem, although Jeroen Bleekemolen did make it to the chequered flag, the Dutchman finishing 12th in his OPC Euroteam-run Astra V8 Coupe, which made him the best-placed driver in a one-year old car.
"The race could not have started worse when Heinz-Harald missed his braking point and hit Marcel, so two cars were out of the race," said Strycek. "We went for a different strategy because we knew the tyres were so good. Timo had the same pace of the leaders, and it worked quite well until his problems. We ended the race with only two new cars, when we should have been fighting for a podium finish."