Make or break time for Reuter

Opel ace Manuel Reuter says that Oschersleben is make or break time for his fading DTM title chances - and repeating his double victory last time out at the track will not be enough

Make or break time for Reuter

Reuter lines up third on the grid for tomorrow's return to Oschersleben, with points-leader Bernd Schneider's Mercedes on pole and Opel's Uwe Alzen second. Schneider is 51 points ahead of Reuter, with six races and a maximum of 120 points at stake, but the 1996 ITC champion believes he now needs the AMG Mercedes team-leader to suffer mechanical misfortunes if the title fight is to go all the way to Hockenheim at the end of October.

"It's really , really difficult now," he says. "Bernd has to retire in at least one of the races here at Oschersleben and I've got to win them both if I want to keep it going. But if Bernd finishes second or third a couple of times, even if I win both races, then that's not good enough for me. I need him to have some bad luck.

"But we saw Bernd go off a couple of times in practice, and we know it's a very fine line, so I've got to believe that anything can still happen. If it's still mathematically possible, then it's not over, but..."

Opel has not been on a DTM podium for the last four races, but Reuter believes that a corner has been turned in the last three weeks.

"I have to say that we lost momentum," he says. "At the Sachsenring and the Nurburgring, we thought we'd do some things different. That didn't really work and we found ourselves a bit off the pace at the [abandoned due to rain] Lausitzring round, so we've decided to go back to doing things like we were at the start of the season - back to basics really."

After dominating at Oschersleben in June, Reuter admits that Opel's advantage has been whittled away - making his task even more daunting.

"If you compare the times here to the ones we were doing in June," he explains, "then we've found two tenths of a second and Mercedes has found eight tenths. But that's not a criticism: the team at AMG has been doing what it's been doing for 10 years, and we've had our team in place at Opel for 10 months. If you think that we had to homologate our engine and aerodynamics before the season even began, I think we've done a good job."

With Reuter the only Opel driver in with even a faint tilt at the title, and front-row starter Alzen in a lowly 13th in the points, team orders could make an appearance at Oschersleben. But Reuter is wary as to whether his team mate will play ball.

"I would hope that if Uwe is ahead of me, he'd move over and help me score more points," he shrugs. "But Alzen's a law to himself - which we saw at the Sachsenring - so we must wait and see what happens."

If things do go according to plan at Oschersleben, Reuter has only four more races to close the gap to Schneider - two at the Nurburgring and two at Hockenheim. But the German is refusing to look that far ahead.

"Okay, Nurburgring and especially Hockenheim will suit the Opels," he says, "but all I'm doing is focussing on the first corner of the first race here at Oschersleben. I'll look further ahead than that only when this weekend is over and done with."

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