Expert tip for the Zandvoort meeting: Audi the favourites
According to ex-champion Manuel Reuter, there is no doubt who will dominate the DTM doubleheader at Zandvoort, Netherlands. According to him, beating Audi will be virtually impossible, this weekend. Meanwhile, the former Opel ace does not only talk about Jamie Green, the dominator in the season so far, when it comes to the drivers. He also has got several other drivers on his list.
Manuel Reuter is one of the German motor-racing greats and nearly nobody has got as much experience under his belt as the racing driver who was born in Mainz. And for the biggest part of his career, he raced cars made in Rüsselsheim. Nonetheless, the then 23-year old made his DTM debut back in 1985 in the cockpit of a Ford Sierra XR4Ti and secured his first podium in his debut season. 1996 was Reuter’s most successful year: Apart from adding his second Le Mans win to the first he had secured in 1989, he also won the International Touring Car Championship, ITC, with his Opel Calibra V6. The German residing in Austria kept on racing for Opel until and including 2005 and over the course of his career he contested an amazing total of 203 races in the most popular international touring-car series.
So, Reuter does not only know DTM really well but Zandvoort too. And from his point of view, it is clear that only one manufacturer will provide the victorious car, this weekend: “I think that Audi are the favourites – just as they were throughout the season. Okay, at the Norisring they weren’t quite as successful as usual but this also was caused by the fact that they were racing with a lot of performance weights aboard. Therefore, I think that the Audis are the cars to beat.”
Meanwhile, Reuter is particularly eager on finding out how the BMWs will deliver: “You have to wait and see if and how BMW have recovered. Bruno Spengler’s third place at the Norisring was a small sign of life and I hope that BMW could use the time after the weekend in Nuremberg to take a closer look at several things that will help them to make this small but crucial step forward, here at Zandvoort.” Basically, he doesn’t believe the Bavarians to be in a true crisis. “After all, we aren’t talking about huge gaps. I you find 1.5 tenths of a second you are further up in the field and able to battle it out for the top positions – while losing two tenths of a second compared to the fastest can make you drop out of the top ten. This enormous competitiveness of the entire DTM grid currently makes things so difficult,” explains the 2000 DTM Vice-Champion.
And, adds Reuter, you definitely mustn’t forget the third brand racing in DTM. “Underestimating the Mercedes guys would be a major mistake – that’s something they demonstrated in the previous races. Should they succeed in delivering on a solid level in the qualifying sessions they have got what it takes to make it to the podium at any time.”
When it comes to the drivers, Manuel Reuter has been particularly impressed by Jamie Green, in the season so far. But there also are several other drivers who attracted the attention of the expert: “Ekström and Spengler delivered in fantastic style, in the second Norisring round. And Pascal Wehrlein’s performance when starting on slicks into race one also was outstanding. But over the course of the season to date, Jamie Green was the clearly dominating driver.”
Furthermore, the former Opel ace expects other Audi drivers to possibly join Green on the podium: “Let’s take a look at the Phoenix drivers, Mike Rockenfeller and Timo Scheider. In the previous races they had their problems due to their poor grid positions. But I can imagine that they will be podium contenders should they succeed in securing positions at the front end of the Zandvoort grid.”
Apart from his former team-mate Timo Scheider, Reuter would love to see several other names secure top positions on the time sheets: “Timo Glock, for instance, encountered a truly difficult season, so far. I really would enjoy seeing him finally getting his act together. And there also are several others I would love to witness being successful. But at the end of the day, DTM isn’t a bowl of cherries. It’s the entire package that counts and therefore, Audi currently have got the best cards.”
To find out if Manuel Reuter’s assessment of the current balance of power on the DTM grid has been correct you haven’t to wait longer than until Saturday afternoon: the qualifying session will be started at 14:55hrs CEST (13:55hrs BST) and at 18:03hrs CEST, the starting lights for the race will be switched off and the 24 DTM drivers will rocket away into the first race of the Zandvoort meeting.