Opel just misses out on points finish Star drivers Joachim Winkelhock and Manuel Reuter came close to adding to Opel's DTM points score in front of 126,000 enthusiastic spectators at the Norisring today (Sunday), but circumstances ultimately ...
Opel just misses out on points finish
Star drivers Joachim Winkelhock and Manuel Reuter came close to adding to Opel's DTM points score in front of 126,000 enthusiastic spectators at the Norisring today (Sunday), but circumstances ultimately deprived both of the chance.
Winkelhock played a starring role in the early laps of the main event, having finished the qualification race in sixth place. A flying start saw him run fifth for the opening laps, ahead of former Formula 1 star Jean Alesi of Mercedes-Benz. After being delayed when Alesi overtook him, Winkelhock was attacked several times by the Mercedes of Thomas Jager. Finally Jager crashed into Winkelhock's Astra, destroying his undertray and forcing him out. "It was absolutely unnecessary, he just crashed into me," said a livid Winkelhock.
That passed the lead Opel baton to Winkelhock's Team Phoenix team-mate Reuter, who had made progress in the qualification race to finish eighth from 11th on the grid. He was strong in the main event, but missed out on a points finish by just one place.
"We were off the pace slightly this weekend, and it's very difficult to get to the front starting from well back," said Reuter. "We have shown in the previous races we have the pace to challenge for victory, but we must look at the lap times and the data to find out why we were not as quick here."
Alain Menu was right on the tail of Reuter in his Euroteam Astra V8 Coupe, having battled ahead of the Mercedes of Patrick Huisman, when he ran wide and clipped the wall on the exit of the chicane forcing him to retire. Michael Bartels finished 11th, but his day was effectively ruined in the qualification race when he was hit by Christian Abt's Audi. Due to major bodywork damage on the left side he had to pit but could join the main race after an excellent job of the Holzer mechanics from the pitlane.
Timo Scheider, who qualified 10th in his Holzer-run Astra V8 Coupe, was also the victim of someone else's accident, and he was eliminated from the qualification race after just 200 metres after Karl Wendlinger's Audi collided with Marcel Fassler's Mercedes, taking him out.
"Driving like that is not the point of the DTM. I was passing them on the left-hand side when they spun me around and it led to a big crash," said Scheider, who was not injured in the collision.
Yves Olivier (Euroteam) finished 13th after being forced to come to a halt and reverse to avoid the crashed cars of Wendlinger and Peter Dumbreck (Mercedes) in the main race.
A disappointed Opel Performance boss Volker Strycek commented: "The huge crowd at the Norisring has witnessed really great racing action today but unfortunately without Opel contributing to it. Our Astra V8 Coupé wasn't fast enough. We had a good start into the weekend on Friday but could not improve our performance afterwards. The fact that both fastest Opels became victims of accidents and had to retire was just another disappointing detail."