Changeable races for Irmler and the 1994 Opel Astra Supertourer
Mixed fortunes, mixed emotions: changeable races for Steffan Irmler and the 1994 Opel Astra Supertourer.
Two weeks lay between two races with the FIA Class 2 Opel Astra MSD built in 1994 for the South African Touring Car Championship. But for Steffan Irmler, both appearances also contained the unexpected. Nevertheless, the prospects for the upcoming starts in various formats of historic touring car racing are more than positive. The performance of the 280 hp front-wheel drive vehicle was perfect both on the Nürburgring and on the BILSTER BERG.
Season start of the racing series “Tourenwagen Legenden”
On the first weekend in June, Steffan Irmler and his team traveled to the Nürburgring to compete with Volker Strycek in the season opener of the racing series “Tourenwagen Legenden”. The 24-hour race on the Eifel course provided the framework, with two sprint races scheduled. With Lars Zander, a second driver of an Opel Supertourer found his way to the Eifel – a welcome sparring partner who offered the ex-works car that was once driven by Manuel Reuter. As early as Thursday, at lunchtime, there was an initial assessment of the situation in free practice. The silver-gray Astra from IRMLER GmbH immediately prevailed against the younger Vectra STW – first place in class 4. But not only that: With eighth overall place, the four-door two-liter Opel left 14 larger-displacement competitors behind.
Rough engine causes perplexity
The positive trend should continue in qualifying on Friday morning at 8:10 a.m. Volker Strycek, the first title winner of the German Production Car Championship in 1984, was scheduled to be the driver, but then suddenly there was a hectic warming up. The engine no longer ran smoothly, and the cause could not be found on site. The perplexity persisted until the start of the first race, the number one car remained in the paddock. What remained was the hope of the second round on Saturday. Overnight in the caravan, the team studied the electrical circuit diagrams they had brought with them to find out what the problem was. Sultry and warm temperatures in the Eifel triggered the first rainfalls on Friday evening – actually ideal weather for the Astra. With front-wheel drive and comparatively narrow wheels, the two-liter four-valve engine is predestined for wet asphalt. Despite the replacement of various individual parts, the out-of-round engine continued to run.
Problem recognized, problem solved: Off to the test day at the Blister Berg
The consequence: Steffan Irmler and Volker Strycek could not take part in the second race either. The motorsport fans from Drebber in Lower Saxony left disappointed. Their troubleshooting continued on Monday morning. On arrival at home, the technicians from IRMLER GmbH quickly determined the reason for the failure: A gear wheel in one of the old, original Swindon roller valves in the intake tract had come loose and caused the lower roller for controlling the third and fourth cylinders to move in an uncontrolled manner. Problem recognized, problem solved – after the messed up race weekend at the Nürburgring and the successful test run in Papenburg on May 8, 2021, another test day was on the program, this time at BILSTER BERG. On the third Saturday in June 2021, Europe’s most beautiful test and presentation route, located in the Teutoburg Forest and measuring 4.2 kilometers, called.
“We are well prepared for the next races!”
Steffan Irmler looked forward to the curve dance with anticipation: “The system reminds me of my beloved routes in England, which I got to know in 2018 and 2019.” In preparation for the tests, the tire brand and width were changed. As Michelin, the previous supplier, was no longer able to provide the tires in the desired dimensions, the company switched to the narrower, English Avon. With the technically refurbished Supertourer, front-wheel drive specialist Irmler was on the way to the limit – and a few times probably beyond all physical limits. Often only circling over the curbs on two wheels: this is how the photographers captured the fast journey in the picture. The helmsman in the cockpit was satisfied: “We’re well prepared for the next races!”
Steffan Irmler and his tireless helpers await a mixed program, primarily in the historical racing formats “Tourenwagen Classics” and “Tourenwagen Legenden” / DTM Classic – we will of course keep you up to date.
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