Double points finish for Opel in Holland Opel added to its DTM points tally with two top six finishes at the penultimate round of the series at Zandvoort in Holland in front of 45,000 enthusiastic spectators. Manuel Reuter (Opel Team Phoenix)...
Double points finish for Opel in Holland
Opel added to its DTM points tally with two top six finishes at the penultimate round of the series at Zandvoort in Holland in front of 45,000 enthusiastic spectators.
Manuel Reuter (Opel Team Phoenix) and Timo Scheider (Opel Team Holzer) finished in fourth and fifth places respectively, although a podium finish had looked on the cards earlier for Alain Menu (Opel Euroteam) but the Swiss star was forced to retire with fuel pressure problems after his pitstop.
Opel looked strong from the word go in Holland, setting the pace in the opening free practice session with Timo Scheider, while Reuter and Menu were right behind him. In Saturday morning's wet practice session, Joachim Winkelhock (Opel Team Phoenix) topped an Opel one-two, but was unable to match that pace in the qualifying session, which was held in dry conditions. Reuter was the top Opel in qualifying, taking the fourth spot on the grid directly ahead of Menu, and there were more Astra V8 Coupes in the top 10 than the cars of any other manufacturer.
Menu got ahead of Reuter at the start of the Qualification race and spent the race trying to get past the Abt Audis of Christian Abt and Mattias Ekstrom, but to no avail. That meant he and Reuter would start the main event from fourth and fifth on the grid.
Reuter made a poor start, however, and dropped to seventh by the first corner, but Menu was straight into the action and got up to third, almost pushing second-placed Ekstrom in the early stages. Ekstrom then moved ahead of Abt to take the lead, as Menu's ran into technical trouble. Despite that, he was right on Abt's tail when they pitted simultaneously on lap eight.
"I was quicker than Ekstrom and Abt for sure," said Menu. "It was a shame I had to retire, because the car was certainly on the pace of the leaders. I feel I could have won this race."
After Menu was forced to retire because of low fuel pressure, Reuter was promoted to the position of leading Opel in fourth place. Manuel had used a clever strategy of not pushing his tyres too hard in the early stages, which allowed him to stop later and use the clear track to good effect. He finished the race just a second behind third placed Fassler, who had allowed AMG Mercedes team leader Bernd Schneider past in his efforts to win the championship. It was not enough, however, and Laurent Aiello of the Abt Sportsline Audi team was crowned champion.
"I'd like to congratulate Laurent on winning the championship, but I must say that next year we will make sure it won't be so easy for the opposition," said Reuter. "I have to be satisfied with this finishing position, because I lost so many places at the start."
Opel motorsport boss Volker Strycek was also pleased with the performance of his cars, but was a little frustrated that another podium finish eluded one of his cars.
"Our speed here was much better and the car was fast all weekend," he said. "Our strategy was fine, but once again we just missed out on a podium finish. With the pace we had, I think we should have made it today. I would also like to send Opel's compliments to Laurent Aiello and the Abt team. It was a very exciting race today and they deserved to win the championship."
Scheider finished close behind Reuter in fifth, while Winkelhock also made it into the top 10. Frenchman Eric Helary (Team Euroteam) finished 14th on his return to the Opel squad, but Michael Bartels (Team Holzer) was forced to retire on the opening lap after a first corner crash had damaged his car.