Two dozen race car classics of various years and performance levels were registered for the season opener of the English Dunlop Saloon Car Cup. On the high-speed track at Silverstone Steffan Irmler also started into his biggest motorsport adventure so far on the British island. A three-people crew accompanied the Lower Saxony on the Formula 1 circuit. With good placings in the Supertourer category and in the overall ranking, the new challenger from Northern Germany gave in a business card.
Arrived: Lower Saxony Vauxhall specialist is in scene at the “Home of British Motorsports” at Silverstone.
Well-established: immediately on the same level with the fastest locals of the two-liter Supertourer category.
Invited: Demonstration rides at the Motorsport Arena Oschersleben just one week after the trip to England.
Drebber / D, Silverstone / GB. “Home of British Motorsports” – Silverstone is a Mekka for friends and enthusiasts of English motor racing. Also Steffan Irmler followed the call of the Formula 1 race track. Accompanied by three friends, the Lower Saxony started this year’s season of the Dunlop Saloon Car Cup. Two dozen race car classics of various years and performance levels were registered, led by the powerful Ford Sierra RS 500 Cosworth and Holden Commodore. With 285 hp from a two-liter four-valve engine, Steffan Irmler was naturally not a contender for one of the front overall rankings. However, due to the dense class structure, he expected a good placement in the category “ST1” for two-liter Supertourer of the second generation – and that was not by chance, as it should turn out on the British island.
In the class “ST1” for super touring cars for two-liter Supertourer of the second generation sat the newcomer in the Dunlop Saloon Car Cup straight away in scene. The main competitor: the local Paul Whight with the Honda Accord, as it was used in the late nineties. In the direct comparison with the Ford Sierra RS 500 Cosworth and Holden Commodore, no miracles were to be expected on the high-speed course, these cars release far more than 200 HP in addition. With Abigail Eaton was also a highly talented female racing driver the honor. She sat in an Australian Holden, which was once piloted by legends like Peter Brock and Larry Perkins “Down Under”. With eleventh overall in qualifying, Steffan Irmler not only placed in the middle of the grid, but also at the second class rank in the “ST1”. The Brit Tony Absolom, like Steffan Irmler with a four-door Vauxhall Cavalier on the way, lined up first behind the German.
In the classification of the Dunlop Saloon Car Cup, this order had no effect: Absolom starts with an older model of the first generation – and thus in another category, the “ST2”. Nevertheless, Steffan Irmler was full of praise for his brand colleague, whose vehicle is referred to as Vauxhall Cavalier: “A very fast driver with a well-prepared two-liter touring car – in general, the level is outstandingly high here. In the starting grid are only original vehicles with history on the way, and it is fought for every inch hard, but fair. You have to get used to that first. Incidentally, this also applies to the rather slippery track surface. I did a spin in each qualifying session, but at the same time I let myself be told that the asphalt will soon be replaced.” With a lap time of 2:52.935 minutes, Steffan Irmler qualified in a good eleventh overall position among 22 competitors and thus exactly in the middle of the grid.
In the two races, each lasting 20 minutes – more operating time is hard to imagine for the highly complex race touring cars from the eighties and nineties – it was good for the guest from Drebber in the district of Diepholz. In the first round, he finished on the twelfth overall place in the first run with the 1998 Irmscher Opel Vectra STW on the British island and behind the Honda driver Paul Whight the second place in the class “ST1”. His British brand colleague Tony Absolom had to overcome a failure in the Vauxhall Cavalier. In the second round, he stormed past Irmler to the fourth overall, while in the overall standings in eighth place also moved forward. In the “ST1” class classification, he even celebrated a first victory and went home quite satisfied across Harwich and Hoek van Holland.
Having arrived back home, there was not much time for a technical review of the sensitive material. On the following Saturday, Steffan Irmler and his team members made their way to the Magdeburger Börde to participate in the traditional Vauxhall meetings at the Motorsport Arena Oschersleben. At the invitation of the organizers, Irmler and, for the first time, the former Vauxhall sports director Volker Strycek also turned on demonstration rounds for the numerous, enthusiastic fans. “We loved to do that”, Steffan Irmler sums up his impressions, “especially as Günter Irmscher junior was also the at the place as the first owner of our supertourer. He had already honored us in February at the Bremen Classic Motorshow, now it was time for a return visit. In addition, we are planning quite a surprise at the race weekend of touring car legends in Oschersleben at the beginning of August, and we were able to get in the mood for that.”
On June 7th and 8th, Steffan Irmler’s England tour continues in Donington at the Masters Historic Festival, and the second round of the Dunlop Saloon Car Cup takes him to the British Midlands. “I’m looking forward to the hospitality we get on the island,” says the 50-year-old Vauxhall specialist, “and, of course, hard contact sports on the racetrack!”
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