Donington Park is no longer in the hunt for a 2001 DTM event, after championship organisers plumped for a shortened, ten-race, calendar.

The series? organising body ITR was desperately trying to take the revived DTM abroad - not least because BMW has turned down a possible 2001 entry, arguing that the championship was too much of an all German affair to justify the millions of investment needed.

In order to get BMW - or any other third manufacturer with which to secure a long-term future for the series - on board for 2001, ITR included three 'definite' international races on its provisional, eleven-race, calendar, at Zolder, Zandvoort and Spielberg. Donington remained as a fourth possibility but, like Zolder, has since fallen by the wayside.

While the German races are fully funded by the championship sponsors, the British round had mostly to be paid for by the track promoters themselves, leaving a big question mark over the English venue. Only if the Donington management could raise the money would the DTM visit the historic track, with the biggest problem being to find the money for getting the cars to run in England. A revised calendar has since shown the British venue to be missing.

Donington was not the only track hanging in the balance, as the new EuroSpeedway Lausitzring south of Berlin was only to stage a race if the series could use the two-mile oval instead of the 4.3km combination of oval and infield track.

"We don?t consider the combination as being either very fan friendly or particularly challenging for the drivers," argued ITR president Hans Werner Aufrecht, "And, at least to my knowledge, the oval has yet to be completed..."

Aufrecht was apparently overwhelmed when visiting the EuroSpeedway for the first time and decided that DTM had to use the oval in 2000. When the Speedway?s management had to deny that the circuit would be ready for use, ITR and EuroSpeedway got entangled in a public argument. Even now, the track remains in a state of partial completion, with staff and marshals yet to be trained how to work with an oval.

"All this is planned to be completed during the winter months," stresses Hans-Joerg Fischer, EuroSpeedway?s chairman, "We have founded an own marshal?s club, and its members will be trained together with their colleagues from the new English Rockingham Speedway. All this had long been planned during the phase of construction."

Two other German track promoters also found themselves in 'discussion' with ITR since the EuroSpeedway affair dies down, with the Nurburgring opposing the instigation of a 'white track', as demanded by the ITR for the 2001 series. At the height of the argument, it looked as if there would be no DTM race in the Eifel next season.

"We had to accept the circuits' own contracts in our inaugural season," Aufrecht explained, "But it was absolutely clear from the word go that there had to be different circumstances in our second year."

After three long meetings with Nurburgring chairman Dr Walter Kafitz, ITR?s marketing boss Walter Mertes could report a satisfactory compromise - and it is the Nurburgring that replaces Donington on the agreed 2001 schedule with the second of its two events.

"The Nurburgring management could persuade their partners to concentrate on activities at the DTM event, rather than on pure advertising," Mertes points out, "The logos of one partner have to be covered, the entire other advertising space will be completely blank."

The other track in doubt was Oschersleben, where a massive first corner shunt eliminated half the field in the first heat of the second 2000 event.

"A driver's mistake was the start of the crash, but the reason for the big impact clearly goes down to the track's layout," Aufrecht insisted, after Joachim Winkelhock's ill-fated outbraking antics at turn one.

After leaving the track, Winkelhock's Opel careered straight across the grass and back onto the track as it swung tightly around the run-off area off the first turn. To avoid further accidents of that nature, Aufrecht demanded a new layout at Oschersleben for 2001 - something which had been planned anyway as the track management wanted to create another overtaking spot and had already planned to replace the first couple of turns with a lengthened front straight and a new hairpin.

"It's just a question of when this can be finished," says track manager Peter Rumpfkeil, "The bike racers are not very happy with the change because they could easily go two or even three wide through the first turn. They will lose a very challenging part of the track - but there is just no way we can keep both versions."

For the future, ITR also eyes a return to the streets of Finland, where the late International Touring Car championship [ITC] held some breathtaking races in downtown Helsinki. Promoter Robert Lappalainen has formally applied for a DTM race - but his plan had to be turned down for 2001.

"We are in talks with the Finnish federation," Aufrecht recalls, "but the safety measurements of the track as they were at that time simply are not acceptable any more. There are no run-off areas at all. The promoters have promised they would come up with plans for a solution - and once they have been presented, we?ll think about it again."

The confirmed DTM calendar now reads as follows:

April 22 Hockenheim
May 6 Nurburgring
May 20 EuroSpeedway Lausitzring
June 17 Sachsenring
July 8 Norisring
August 12 A1-Ring
August 26 Nurburgring
September 9 Oschersleben
September 23 Zandvoort
October 7 Hockenheim

 

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