Zandvoort: Opel preview

Fighting for points in the dunes Part two of the DTM final sprint: At Zandvoort, not far from Amsterdam, the touring car drivers will be tackling the ninth and penultimate round of the season. Year after year, the former Grand Prix circuit ...

Fighting for points in the dunes

Part two of the DTM final sprint: At Zandvoort, not far from Amsterdam, the touring car drivers will be tackling the ninth and penultimate round of the season. Year after year, the former Grand Prix circuit situated amidst dunes fascinates drivers and spectators alike with its unique characteristics that virtually provoke thrilling races. Hence it comes as no surprise that more than 32,000 tickets have been sold in advance. The race at the tough, undulating circuit will feature 36 laps (154.8 km).

Home match for Jeroen Bleekemolen: For Opel's junior driver Jeroen Bleekemolen the DTM race at Zandvoort marks the highlight of the year. 21-year-old Jeroen, who has lately been showing constant improvement in the 470-hp Astra, practically grew up near this track where he has done countless laps, starting at the tender age of eight. Jeroen, who comes from a Dutch motorsport family, will not be the only one of his kin starting from the Zandvoort grid this weekend. His father Michael, whose extensive racing career saw him rise all the way to Formula One, will be contesting the Porsche Carrera Cup.

Testing at Hungary: Taking advantage of the close proximity of the two tracks, immediately after the race at the A1 Ring Opel moved on to the Pannonia-Ring in Hungary for test drives. There, Peter Dumbreck and Timo Scheider (both with OPC Team Phoenix) along with Alain Menu (OPC Team Holzer) performed some setup tests, not being held back in the least by the rain which had since started. "After all, we can't rule out the possibility of rain in the two final races, can we?," Peter Dumbreck said.

Flashback: A year ago, Manuel Reuter and Timo Scheider finished Zandvoort in fourth and fifth place respectively. Most recently, at the A1 Ring, Opel had to settle for a seventh-place finish by Alain Menu. The two best-placed Astras, driven by Peter Dumbreck and Timo Scheider, fell victim to a crash in the first lap and had to retire early.

Volker Strycek, Opel motorsport director on spectator response to the DTM:

"For the race at Zandvoort more than 32,000 tickets have been sold in advance, which means we can again count on having a fantastic audience. Spectator response at the A1 Ring was extremely impressive as well, as was the great atmosphere in the stands and in the paddock. After eight races of the DTM 2003, we've been averaging well over 58,000 spectators. Zandvoort and Hockenheim are both guaranteed to be exciting races, owing to the championship being decided then, and everyone determined to give their level best once more before the winter break. This is true for Opel, too. We know the capabilities of our drivers and our Astra V8 Coupé: We definitely want to get back on the podium."

Jeroen Bleekemolen (OPC Euroteam) on his home match:

"The first time I drove at Zandvoort I was eight years old, of course in the company of an adult. My first car race I drove in 1998 at the age of 16, at Zandvoort, naturally. I finished second straight away. And I even won my second race, again at Zandvoort. I live in Ardenhout, only a stone's throw away from the circuit, where I've probably done more laps than all of my fellow DTM drivers combined. Nevertheless, I don't think that this'll be of any benefit for me, really, as most of the other drivers have far more experience in the DTM than I have. In any case, my goal is to again make it into the super pole qualifying, and to score my first points. It would be smashing if I managed to do this in front of my home audience."

Peter Dumbreck (OPC Team Phoenix) on the final sprint of the season:

"It's really a pity that I've not been able to score any points in two consecutive races. Of course, this can always happen. However, a crash like the one at the A1-Ring in the opening lap is definitely frustrating, especially given the fact that things had really been looking good for us at the A1-Ring. Well, I'll do my level best to beef up my score, at Zandvoort and then at the season's finale at Hockenheim. Zandvoort is a circuit with many flowing corners, some of which are really fast. I love such corners, and the Astra's well-suited for them, too."

Joachim Winkelhock (OPC Euroteam) on the dune circuit at Zandvoort:

"Zandvoort is both difficult and attractive. Above all, it's a real driver's track. I particularly relish the atmosphere there, with so many spectators sitting and standing on the natural slopes of the sand dunes. This is truly unique and, if anything, might compare with the Nürburgring Nordschleife. Zandvoort brings back many pleasant memories from the beginning of my career when I used to drive the Renault Cup there, competing, among others, against Volker Strycek, who is now Opel's motorsport director."


Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series DTM
Drivers Peter Dumbreck , Joachim Winkelhock , Manuel Reuter , Timo Scheider , Volker Strycek , Jeroen Bleekemolen , Alain Menu