In the second outing on the british island, Steffan Irmler sat himself in scene with the 1998 Irmscher Opel Vectra from the former German Super Touring Car Championship 1999. At the Donington Park Masters on the 3.185 kilometers long circuit in the Midlands, he again drove to the points. It came to an entertaining three-way fight among Opel – or Vauxhall – pilots. On top of that, Tim Harvey, an idol in british touring car racing, handed over the well-deserved trophies.
Contact: Even the first free practice sessions on the day before the Donington Park Masters reveal fundamental progress in the suspension set-up.
Eleventh spot in qualifying: in the first qualifying session at Donington Park already, Steffan Irmler drives straight into midfield – and to second place in class ST1.
Seventh place in the overall standings: already at the first race participation on the english track, the Vauxhall driver from Lower Saxony, Germany, can make up four positions.
Steffan Irmler returned totally satisfied with his team from the second racing weekend on the british island. On the occasion of the Donington Park Masters, the next double header for the Dunlop Saloon Car Cup was on schedule. Early on Wednesday morning, the Lower Saxon troupe from Drebber in the Diepholz county headed for England to participate in the first free practise sessions the next day. Steffan Irmler did not know the track yet. After the first laps, he was full of confidence: “A fantastic track – sometimes with passages like Redgate right after the start and finish line or the ultra-fast Craner Curves, which demand some courage.” He added: “We’ve been able to improve our suspension settings significantly since our first outing at Silverstone – although the track surface in England is generally a bit slipperier than ours, but our Vectra follows the steering movements much more precisely now!”
Even the official timed session confirmed the upward trend: immediately, Steffan Irmler qualified in the factory-built 1998 Opel Vectra STW in eleventh spot in the standings, only four positions behind the native brand colleague Tony Absolom. The Briton also presents such a model, which is refered onto the island as the Vauxhall Cavalier. Darren Fielding pushed ahead with another Vauxhall in front of Absolom – the starting point for a three-way fight between the Vauxhall pilots could hardly have been more exciting in the first race. Despite the backlog in experience, Steffan Irmler mixed in the midst of the local matadors cheerfully and finished the first round in seventh place in the overall standings. Sixth placed in the general standings and only one position ahead of him had been Darren Fielding with the white Vauxhall Cavalier, once owned by the english touring car idol John Cleland as a practise car. A place behind Irmler and ranked eighth: Tony Absolom with his multicolored one, used around 1995. Another legend in british touring car racing, Tim Harvey, handed over the trophies then.
“That’s been first-class motorsports, which our supertourers offered in the first race!”, evaluated Steffan Irmler, “it was certainly also a thrill for all the spectators around.” No less remarkable for him: “The drive shafts, our main problem after the two races in Silverstone, endured without any problem.” The record after the first heat in Donington: seventh in the overall standings, second in class ST1, fourth in the ranking of the supertourers. The starting grid for the second race took place after the finish of the first race: Steffan Irmler in row four now, surrounded by the brand colleagues Fielding and Absolom. Unfortunately, Irmler’s Vectra blocked out the front wheels during hard braking after two laps – a typical phenomenon in the two-liter super touring cars of the time. The front-wheel driven sedan slipped into the off – the premature end of a still very successful racing weekend on the british island. “We take important championship points with us back to Germany”, commented Steffan Irmler despite the slip-up, “only that counts!”
Another highlight on the calendar: the third round of this year’s Dunlop Saloon Car Cup at Brands Hatch. “My boys and I have sworn onto it,” says the race-driving team boss, “to take the good momentum from Donington to the uphill and downhill at Brands Hatch to score some more championship points!”
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Photography: PSP Images
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