Opel boss says progress has been made

Opel motorsport boss Volker Strycek says the marque has made progress in its battle to return to DTM competitiveness, even if the qualifying times at the Nurburgring don't tell the full story

Opel boss says progress has been made

At the Hockenheim season-opener a fortnight ago, the Russelsheim manufacturer had its worst ever weekend in the born-again series, failing to score a single point as it found itself eclipsed not only by reigning champions Mercedes, but by the privateer Abt Audi squad too.

Strycek vowed to fight back at the 'Ring, but Opel has again struggled in practice and qualifying. Yves Olivier's 2000-spec Astra V8 Coupe is the top Opel, down in 10th on the grid, with the leading 2001-spec car a distant 13th.

"This is not what we expected or wanted," said Strycek, "but at least we've improved a bit since Hockenheim. Then, we were a second slower than the Mercedes cars. Now, we are only around nine tenths slower on a lap that's nearly twice as long.

"We've improved by over a second over the last couple of days," he added. "We've been working hard to get there and we want to find and fix the problems we have as soon as possible."

At Hockenheim, the marque suspected that a combination of low temperatures, excessive rubber pick-up and the nature of the track surface all combined to prevent it from getting enough heat into its Dunlop control rubber. But Strycek now believes that a series of small problems, and not one quick fix, are to blame for its sluggish start.

"I don't believe it's one specific problem," he said. "It seems to be a chain of a whole load of things that are all related to each other. We need to interpret and analyse the data we have and work on every aspect of the car. There's a lot of work still to do."

Although Opel was confident that changes made to the Astra V8 Coupe over the winter would improve a car that won eight out 16 races in 2000, its pre-season testing schedule appears to have had a knock-on effect on its early-season competitiveness: an estimated 75 percent of its running was conducted in damp or wet conditions.

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