Opel to enter 24h Nuerburgring

On the Nuerburgring Nordschleife Opel to field two Astra V8 Coupes in 24-hour-race Russelsheim. Opel will be fielding two Astra V8 Coupes in the International ADAC 24-Hour-Race on the Nuerburgring from 30 May to 1 June. During this traditional...

On the Nuerburgring Nordschleife
Opel to field two Astra V8 Coupes in 24-hour-race

Russelsheim. Opel will be fielding two Astra V8 Coupes in the International ADAC 24-Hour-Race on the Nuerburgring from 30 May to 1 June. During this traditional endurance race on the legendary Nordschleife, the two 500 hp strong touring cars will be piloted by Opel DTM works drivers Manuel Reuter, Timo Scheider, Peter Dumbreck and Jeroen Bleekemolen as well as by Marcel Tiemann, Christian Menzel and Volker Strycek, who have extensive Nuerburgring experience under their belts. Nuerburgring-based OPC Team Phoenix is responsible for the development and fielding of the two racing cars.

"The 24-hour-race on the Nuerburgring draws 150,000 spectators and is thus one of the major motorsport events in Germany. Needless to say that we want to be part of the action with the Opel brand. The Astra V8 Coupe is a car that puts us at the vanguard of those fighting for overall victory," says Opel motorsport director Volker Strycek. "Opel have always been successful on the Nordschleife and have more fans around this track than at any other circuit."

Comprehensive test programme culminates in "Eifelrennen" victory

Opel successfully completed the comprehensive test programme in preparation for the 24-hour-race last Saturday. In the traditional "Eifelrennen", the fourth round towards the Nuerburgring endurance championship, Marcel Tiemann, Christian Menzel and Volker Strycek at the wheel of the former DTM Opel contender first took the pole position and then clinched victory.

"This was a perfect dress rehearsal," Phoenix team chief Ernst Moser said with obvious satisfaction. As early as last autumn, Opel had performed initial test drives on the demanding Nordschleife. In January, the Astra was run for more than 40 hours in Jerez, Spain, and Vallelunga, Italy. Since March, Phoenix have been participating in all four endurance races on the Nordschleife.

OPC Team Phoenix has developed Astra V8 Coupe endurance version

The Phoenix team headed by project engineer Jurgen Jungklaus developed an endurance version based on the 2002 Astra V8 Coupe specifically for the extreme demands of the Nordschleife with its many corners and numerous jumps. In addition, the regulations for the 24-hour-race and the vehicle classification required certain modifications. As such, the minimum weight specified for the Astra is 1,250 kilograms (instead of 1,080 kg, including the driver, for the DTM), the fuel tank capacity can be up to 120 litres (instead of 70 litres), and the two air restrictors are allowed to have a diameter of 32 millimetres each. The four-litre V8 engine of the 24-hour-version delivers about 500 hp.

"It isn't easy to develop an endurance car from a sprinter," Ernst Moser sums up the project. "We had to accommodate about 300 kilograms of additional weight, adapt the chassis to the higher ground clearance, reinforce several chassis and body components as well as achieving better fuel economy of the engine -- to mention only a few of numerous measures taken."

Driver line-up with DTM works drivers and Nuerburgring experts

During the 24-hour-race, however, it is not only the reliability and the speed of the racing cars that counts but also the experience of the drivers. All of the Opel drivers, except for Manuel Reuter, participated in the test programme. "This enabled the drivers to get accustomed to both the Nordschleife and the driving performance of the Astra endurance version," said Dirk Theimann of Phoenix, who is responsible for organising Opel's endurance project. "In the race, in addition to good lap times, prudence and caution during the numerous overtaking manoeuvres are crucial. After all, 200 racing cars make for a lot of traffic on the Nordschleife."

One of the cockpits of the two Opel Astra V8 Coupes will be shared by the two-time Le Mans winner and ITC champion Manuel Reuter (41, Saalfelden/Austria), Timo Scheider (24, Altach/Austria), Marcel Tiemann (29, Monaco) and Volker Strycek (45, Dehrn, Germany). Taking turns at the wheel of the other Astra will be Peter Dumbreck (29, Adderbury/Great Britain), Jeroen Bleekemolen (21, Aerdenhout/The Netherlands), Christian Menzel (31, Kelberg, Germany) and Volker Strycek.

"We're well set, with strong and well-balanced driver teams as well as the two V8-Coupes," says Phoenix team chief Ernst Moser. "BMW, Porsche, Audi and Chrysler Viper are strong competitors, not to forget the large number of successful private teams from the Endurance Cup. They all rank among the favourites."

The 24-hour-race will be staged on the 25.9-kilometre combination of the Grand Prix circuit and the Nordschleife, starting at 3 pm, Saturday, 31 May. The race will finish at 3 pm on Sunday, 1 June. Qualifying sessions are scheduled from 10 to 12 am and from 7 to 11 pm on Friday, 30 May.


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About this article
Series DTM , Road racing
Drivers Marcel Tiemann , Peter Dumbreck , Manuel Reuter , Timo Scheider , Volker Strycek , Jeroen Bleekemolen , Christian Menzel , Dirk Theimann