'We're back!' says Opel boss

Opel sports boss Volker Strycek believes the marque has turned the corner in its DTM nightmare season after taking three of the top 10 slots and finishing best of the rest behind Mercedes in qualifying at the Norisring

'We're back!' says Opel boss

A promising showing at the Sachsenring has been backed up with a vastly-improved qualifying performance on the Nuremberg street circuit that plays host to round five of the German-based tin-top series. Jo Winkelhock put his Holzer-run car fourth on the grid, behind a trio of Mercedes, but just 0.192s from the pole. His team mate Timo Scheider and Team Phoenix driver Manuel Reuter will start Sunday's sprint race in seventh and eighth.

The 2001-spec Astra V8 was a poor third to the cars from Mercedes and Audi in the opening rounds, failing to score a single point at the Hockenheim season-opener and faring little better at the Nurburgring and Oschersleben.

Drivers and teams found it virtually impossible to find a workable balance in the cars, and struggled to find set-ups which could bring the series' Dunlop control tyre up to its optimum working temperature.

"It's great to have three Opels in the top 10," said Strycek. "We're back now, and we can genuinely say we're the second best manufacturer in the series.

"The last few months have not been easy for us," he added, "but I'm happy that this performance has confirmed our increased competitiveness at the Sachsenring. The cars are now well sorted and we're just so much better than in the opening races."

But Strycek said the final confirmation of Opel's return to competitiveness will only come with its performance in what are expected to be scorching conditions for Sunday's races. Winkelhock, too, remains cautious.

"I don't know exactly what has made the biggest difference," said the 1993 BTCC champion, "but we've worked hard over the last few weeks and it looks like we're there. But in testing yesterday, we still found we had to do many laps before we could get the grip from the tyres. We'll see what it's like over a long run in the races."


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