The Opel Astra OPC Cup enjoys an exceptional position within the VLN endurance racing championship as it concerns a make cup integrated in this most popular grassroots series in Europe. All participants compete in identical Cup vehicles so that the driving skills are decisive. In order to ensure equal performances of the Astra OPC race vehicles, Opel has appointed two experienced scrutineers who exclusively look after the compact sports cars coming from the Rüsselsheim plant. Gerhard Grüber and Florian Mai are on-site at all the events and know the Astra like the back of their hands.
It is not a question of a high criminal energy to drift away into a grey zone in motorsport. Experienced teams have most sophisticated engineers in their teams who do not only know all the technical regulations in greatest detail but also take advantage of the rules with an interpretation up to the limits. Whether there is a gap in the regulations in certain points or certain facts or they may be interpreted in different ways - it is the usual cat-and-mouse game for the Opel engineers.
"There had been no important incidents this year when the Opel Astra OPC Cup was introduced", says Grüber. "One of the reasons for sure is that the Cup and its regulations are still quite young and, on the other hand, the regulations are very clear and precise so that there is hardly any room for interpretation." Seals are applied to the most important components of the Cup vehicles so that modifications which might result in an advantage in performance are excluded. "The gearbox, the turbo charger, the engine and various sensors are sealed so that no modifications can be carried out in these areas", explains Mai. "This is a big advantage for us as we can right away see whether any changes have been made on these parts or not." Important information is also provided by the data logger which records the most important parameters during the practice and during the race. "Here again, any deviation from the standard is immediately visible", says Mai.
All the Cup vehicles must be approved by the scrutineers before the race. These preliminary technical checks are however restricted to a general visual control and a check of the safety items. After the race, detailed inspections will be carried out on selected cars. "This must not necessarily always be the class winner", says Grüber. "We determine the cars which have to undergo this final scrutineering together with the VLN Stewards before the race. This may be the car with the fastest lap, the fastest in practice or any other, previously selected car." Furthermore, Grüber and Mai will only intervene and act if a Cup participant lodges a protest against the car of a competitor and thus claims a specific technical check.
"All together, we cannot complain", says Grüber. "There is a respectful co-operation amongst the participants and with us. The roles are clearly allocated. This does however not prevent us from sitting together in the evening and have a nice chat."