Joachim Winkelhock, who has had a contract with Opel since the DTM's comeback in 2000, might be stepping down from racing next season, but will remain in the manufacturer's service.

After 25 successful years in motorsport, the touring car stalwart will exchange the cockpit for another function - that of 'OPC ambassador'. The 43-year old Winkelhock will not merely be handling promotional and PR activities, however, but will be actively involved in other areas such as the transfer of technology between racing and production, especially the development and tuning of suspensions used in Opel models.

He will also be charged with supporting and promoting young talent, such as rookie drivers starting out in the Formula Three Euroseries with Opel.

"After 25 years of racing, the time has come for me to take off my helmet and quit the job," Winkelhock sighed, "Most of these 25 years have been good ones, with many peaks but, naturally, valleys, too.

"I've never regretted switching to Opel, and I'm really happy to be able to continue working with them. It's a new and exciting challenge for me, and I'm particularly delighted about being able to contribute my experience."

Opel motorsport director Volker Strycek spoke warmly of his new ambassador.

"Joachim Winkelhock is one of the most successful and popular German racing drivers - and he has given proof of this in the DTM with Opel," he said, "For the Opel brand and for OPC, it is a clear advantage to keep him on board. We'll definitely benefit from his experience and popularity. We're happy to have him stay with us."

Winkelhock, whose career started in the Renault 5 Cup in 1979, was German F3 champion in 1988, won three touring car titles as a BMW works driver in Germany, the United Kingdom and Asia as well as clinching victories in the Le Mans 24 Hours, at the N?rburgring and at Spa-Francorchamps. With Opel, 'Jockel' captured two pole positions in the DTM as well as one victory and five podium positions.



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