Nurburgring preview: Can Opel bounce back?

Opel heads to the Nurburgring Grand Prix circuit for rounds 9 and 10 of the DTM this weekend knowing it must bounce back from a disastrous Sachsenring to keep Manuel Reuter and Jo Winkelhock's title hopes alive, but buoyed by its form in testing at the Eifel track last month

Nurburgring preview: Can Opel bounce back?

A series of tyre blow-outs among the leading Opels at the Sachsenring, including Reuter's and Winkelhock's, means Mercedes driver Bernd Schneider holds a 27-point lead over Reuter in the overall standings. Klaus Ludwig is third overall for Mercedes, following his Sachsenring double, with Winkelhock fourth, 38 points off Schneider.

The two-day official test at the track on July 20/21 saw 16 cars within one second of each other, with Opel's Uwe Alzen and Stefano Modena heading the time sheets. But with Mercedes introducing a revised airbox at the Nurburgring that will give its CLK Coupes more power and more torque, Opel cannot rely on having a similar edge this weekend.

"We are well-prepared, but the field is ridiculously tight," said Reuter. "Only two or three tenths separate us - which is great for the sport, but hard on the drivers."

Ludwig, who capped a remarkable comeback season with his double victory last time out, is an acknowledged Nurburbring meister, but he too believes the tightness of the field makes it too close to call.

"The 'Ring has it all - long straights, fast sections, slow corners, hard braking points," he says. "It's challenging for a driver, but not so complicated that my local knowledge turns into a decisive advantage."

Audi, too, moved nearer to the pace after receiving permission to run a larger rear wing on its Abt-run TTs. This weekend, four of the yellow machines will be in action, with Honda BTCC ace James Thompson again joining the team's regular driver trio of Laurent Aiello, Christian Abt and Kris Nissen.

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