DTM

Zandvoort: Opel race report

Manuel Reuter finishes eighth for Opel at Zandvoort Once again, Manuel Reuter (OPC Team Holzer) was the best-placed Opel driver in Sunday's eighth round of the DTM at Zandvoort, attended by a new record crowd of 73,000 spectators. Behind ...

Manuel Reuter finishes eighth for Opel at Zandvoort

Once again, Manuel Reuter (OPC Team Holzer) was the best-placed Opel driver in Sunday's eighth round of the DTM at Zandvoort, attended by a new record crowd of 73,000 spectators. Behind eighth-placed Reuter, Marcel Fässler (OPC Team Phoenix) also scored a top ten finish for the Rüsselsheim brand. The race distance was cut short to only ten laps following an accident by Opel driver Peter Dumbreck from which he was able to walk away unscathed.

Testing on Friday was a positive start for Opel, as Laurent Aiello and Peter Dumbreck (both OPC Team Phoenix) posted top six times in the two sessions. Local hero Jeroen Bleekemolen, who was a star of the race here last year in his rookie season, was also on top form for his first race in the OPC Euroteam Vectra V8 GTS, setting the seventh fastest time in his first official test session after swapping from a year-old Astra Coupe.

In Saturday morning's free practice session it was the turn of Manuel Reuter, fresh from scoring a hard-earned podium finish in the previous race at Oschersleben, to lead the Opel charge. He was third fastest, ahead of title protagonists Mattias Ekström (Audi) and Christijan Albers (Mercedes). Among the four Opels in the top eight was former Formula 1 star Heinz-Harald Frentzen (OPC Team Holzer).

It wasn't all good news, however, as both Aiello and Bleekemolen suffered heavy crashes at the daunting 100mph Scheivlak bend. Both OPC Team Phoenix and Euroteam did fantastically well to rebuild the cars in time for a couple of laps of qualifying.

Three Opels made it into the Top 10 Super Pole shoot-out, with Timo Scheider (OPC Team Holzer) the highest placed in fifth position, but the ever-changing track conditions of the single-lap format seemed to work against the Opel drivers. Reuter was eighth fastest, ahead of Scheider and Marcel Fässler (OPC Team Phoenix).

"We expected a lot better than that," said Opel's motorsport chief Volker Strycek. "I know we should have been quicker but we will have to live with it."

Reuter commented: "Zandvoort is a difficult track to judge because of the proximity of all the sand. The wind can blow that onto the circuit, and cars can also bring it onto the racing line. My car was very good in practice and pre-qualifying, but I had far too much oversteer in Super Pole. I'm very disappointed, because I was expecting to be in the top four. We will have to look to our strength in race conditions instead."

The Opels were in the thick of the action from the start, with Reuter and Scheider running well in the top 10, while further back Dumbreck was battling with ex-F1 star Jean Alesi, and set the overall fastest lap before the first pitstops.

Dumbreck, however, then suffered the biggest DTM accident for many years when his car went off at the 120mph Arie Luyendijk Bocht. Despite hitting the barriers at unabated speed, and rolling over three times, Dumbreck was able to walk away from his car, which stood up to the impact immensely well - a testament to the DTM's safety systems which includes a carbonfibre monocoque 'safety cell' surrounding the driver.

Following the accident, the race was stopped. According to the DTM regulations, the remaining ten lap sprint would be the sole basis for the race result. Manuel Reuter started in eighth place and defended his position until the chequered flag. Thus, the Austrian-based driver was once again the best-placed Opel works driver. He was followed by Marcel Fässler in the top ten after Timo Scheider dropped back to twelfth position with power steering failure. Local hero Jeroen Bleekemolen finished his maiden race with the Vectra GTS V8 in 13th position.

"In the second race, my car had less grip than in the first race so I wasn't able to attack. At least, we scored one point", said Manuel Reuter. Opel motorsport director Volker Strycek analyzed: "The most important news of the day is the fact that Peter is fine. The safety concept of the DTM proved its worth and our engineers have incorporated it into the Opel Vectra GTS V8 in a magnificent way."

-opel-

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About this article
Series DTM
Drivers Jean Alesi , Laurent Aiello , Marcel Fassler , Peter Dumbreck , Manuel Reuter , Christijan Albers , Timo Scheider , Mattias Ekström , Volker Strycek , Jeroen Bleekemolen