Opel pairing the quickest in test one
In this weekend’s first DTM test at Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Opel succeeded in securing a one-two. On Friday morning, Manuel Reuter set the fastest lap time at the 6.973-kilometre circuit, with his brand-mate, Laurent Aiello, finishing second. Only in the closing minutes of the session, Reuter succeeded in setting the fastest lap time (2:13.658 minutes) behind the wheel of his Vectra GTS V8, thus outclassing his brand-mate, Aiello, by more than six tenths of a second, with Audi’s Tom Kristensen taking third place. While Jean Alesi, the fastest of the AMG-Mercedes C-Class drivers, had to settle for seventh position in spite of having been the leader for quite a while.
Thanks to Heinz-Harald Frentzen finishing sixth and Marcel Fässler seventh, all the four Opel drivers made it to the top ten. Opel Motorsport Director Volker Strycek was happy with the result, yet, he claimed that it was far too early to use this result as a hint regarding the course of the weekend. “We have seen that we can do clearly better. We have tested for an entire day, at Hockenheim, we have found quite a lot – and now we want to make use of what we’ve found.”
RThe session had to be red-flagged for ten minutes due to an off-track experience of Christian Abt (Audi). The driver from Kempten was just chasing through Eau Rouge when the right rear suspension of his Audi A4 DTM broke. “Suddenly, the car handled extremely nervously and I thought I had suffered a puncture,” said Abt later. “But then I saw the smoke and decided to slowly cruise back to the pits.” But only when Abt had returned to the pits, the extent of the damage became obvious. The tyre had rubbed on the Audi’s body, thus setting the rear on fire. The team is just working flat out on repairing the car and hopes to have it ready to go at halftime of the second test session.
LFor a long time, Jean Alesi had held the top position on the time sheets, but at the end of the day he had to settle for seventh place, with his fastest lap time being 1.270 seconds slower than the one of Opel’s Manuel Reuter. Bernd Schneider finished eighth, directly behind Alesi, and Mika Häkkinen came ninth. While Alex Margaritis, the fastest driver of a 2004 spec car, took eleventh place.