Rüsselsheim/Millbrook. 24 hours at full throttle on the Millbrook Proving Ground’s High Speed Bowl with its spectacular, steeply banked curves. Twelve pilots take it in turns to alternate driving of two series model Astra 2.0 CDTIs. A 4800 km journey with just 22 minutes downtime for both cars in 24 hours. All this produced a stunning average speed of 201 km/h, in the attempt to achieve the world record for diesel passenger cars in the FIA’s 1600-2000cc forced-induction diesel production car class.
In total, Opel’s and its sister brand Vauxhall’s test team attempted twelve world records and six British National Speed Endurance Records. The 24-hour sprint included the obligatory fitting of roll cages, Corbeau race seats and Luke harnesses, then the sealing and locking in a secure compound under supervision of the sports authorities right up until the attempt. Opel/Vauxhall is still awaiting FIA confirmation that its attempts have been successful.
The two Astra CDTIs started out on the High Speed Bowl in Millbrook near Milton Keynes on October 5, 2013 at 16.00. Nine journalists shared the cars with three Opel/Vauxhall specialists. Volker Strycek, former DTM race driver and Director Opel Performance Cars & Motorsport acted as team captain. The previous touring car expert and race director was happy at the end of the 24-hour-marathon about the 18 new records attempted: “The two Astras were absolutely convincing at full throttle. The combination of performance and efficiency made the 24 hour benchmark possible. Furthermore, the cars didn’t need a single drop of oil”.
Michelin was tire partner, providing Pilot Super Sports tires from the Astra’s original fittings – the same set that an Opel customer receives with a new Astra. Rig tests were carried out as well as 500 miles of testing at Millbrook during the summer in order to test their durability. Volker Strycek remarked: “We did a tire change once on each car just to be absolutely on the safe side: the stress on the suspension and tires can be intense, due to the forces exerted by the track’s banking.”
Volker Strycek not only brought his motorsport expertise to the project, but he also took a four-strong pit crew to England, that serviced the Astras as if at a 24-hour run in Le Mans or at the Nürburgring. The crew undertook quick and efficient re-fuelling and driver changes throughout the day and night and it was thanks to them that the very short downtime of 22 minutes was possible.
“This is real testament to the durability, safety and performance of the Astra in extreme conditions that a normal motorist would never experience,” said Duncan Aldred, Acting Vice President Sales and Aftersales Opel/Vauxhall and Chairman & Managing Director of Vauxhall. ‘Sometimes too much focus is put on the final one per cent of a car’s handling, or its 0-60mph time, but for most buyers exceptional reliability and secure, safe handling are paramount. Above all, this test sets out to prove these virtues.’