Opel boss says development strategy has paid off

Opel's motorsport boss Volker Strycek says the results of qualifying at the Sachsenring today (Saturday) has vindicated the marque's choice to run its five 2001 cars in various specifications this weekend

Opel boss says development strategy has paid off

The Ruesselsheim marque, which pushed Mercedes hard in last year's title race, has suffered a nightmare start to 2001, and only one of its works drivers, Timo Scheider, has managed to score a point thus far. But its fortunes took a turn for the better at Sachsenring, with Michael Bartels taking fourth on the grid and Manuel Reuter in seventh.

After a scheduled test at Oschersleben was hit by rain last week, Opel chose to distribute its latest development parts across all five of its 2001-spec cars, rather then concentrate solely on one car. Bartels has been consistently 0.6secs off the pacesetters in the free practice sessions at Sachsenring - the closest an Opel has been this season.

"Each car carries a different combination of parts from our development work," said Strycek. "We are analysing which parts are the most important for all the other cars to have. From the beginning of this weekend it has been apparent that the car of Michael Bartels is the one with the most performance, so it's the way we will go with the other cars.

"It's a big step forward which we have made since Oschersleben, so it's very nice to have one car on the second row and one on the fourth row. The rain [in qualifying] was helpful, for sure, but the results are not just down to luck. We had a prepared strategy and we knew the rain was coming, so we did a good job," he added.

Despite the boost it has received, there are no guarantees forthcoming that Bartels will be able to hold station in the races tomorrow, or that all five 2001 Opels will have the preferred parts in time for the next round at the Norisring.

"It's very difficult to say," said Strycek. "I don't want to say we'll be competitive at Norisring. Our big problem at the moment is the time between the races - there is only two weeks until then. It's not a case of pressing a button and all the bits and pieces come together for each car, but we will try to take the next step in time for then.

"We're much better, but still not good enough. We have to fight and push for more performance."

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