As has been rumoured since he announced his split with the Abt Audi team, Laurent Aiello has been confirmed as another weapon in an increasingly potent Opel armoury.

Just a week after signing three-time grand prix winner Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Opel has added another top-line driver to its squad for the 2004 DTM season, with the 34-year old Aiello bringing one of the most complete touring car resumes to the Russelsheim team.

The Frenchman is one of the most successful touring car drivers of all-time, having won, among others, the French, German and British Super Touring series. Since the start of the new DTM in 2000, when he signed to drive for the Abt-Audi team, he has been a frontrunner in the series, and became the first Frenchman to win the title in 2002. Having struggled to remain in the hunt for a second crown in 2003, he switches to Opel and will campaign an Opel Vectra GTS V8 in 2004.

"I have been in touch with Opel for two years, and I am happy that we have now concluded a deal," Aiello said, "There is great motivation at Opel and I'd really like to contribute to that. Moreover, I am delighted that I can stay in the DTM, because the series really means a lot to me."

Opel's motorsport manager, Volker Strycek, was equally happy with his new signing.

"With Laurent Aiello, we have yet another top driver joining our ranks," he confirmed, "He is a known quantity in touring car racing and certainly another valuable addition for our team."

Opel's line-up for 2004 is possibly the strongest ever to have been assembled by the marque as, alongside Aiello and Frentzen, the squad also includes the 1996 ITC champion and two-time Le Mans winner Manuel Reuter, the best-placed Opel driver in 2003, Peter Dumbreck, and ex-Mercedes man Marcel F?ssler.

Opel has also improved its team outside of the cockpit, with G?nther Steiner, most recently technical director of the Jaguar Formula One team and, before that, responsible for the Ford Focus WRC at works rally team M-Sport, has been appointed as technical manager of the OPC DTM Centre in Bobingen, with immediate effect.

"The DTM is a great series that becomes more and more important, also at an international level," Steiner said, "The strict regulations are a guarantee for equal chances and a high level at reasonable costs. For a technician, the challenge is to find an area to work within these regulations. For me, that is an interesting task."