Opel can look back on a gripping history in international racing. Many victories, WRC and European Championship titles have been won by the brand with the lightning bolt.
The recent European Junior Rally Championship titles by Emil Bergkvist (Sweden, 2015), Marijan Griebel (Hahnweiler, 2016), Christopher Ingram (Great Britain, 2017) and Martins Sesks (Latvia, 2018) in the Opel ADAM R2 as well as Laurent Pellier (France, 2022) in the Corsa Rally4 seamlessly join a list of great successes that the Rüsselsheim-based automaker has had the pleasure of celebrating since its entry into motorsport in 1899. In fact, few are aware of the long, dazzling racing history of the brand with the lightning bolt.
The first Opel victory has been handed down from 1901. Heinrich von Opel won the hill climb at Königsstuhl near Heidelberg with the Opel Patent Motorwagen "System Lutzmann". Between 1903 and 1926, Carl Jörns celebrated a total of 288 race victories - all of them on Opels. The Ludwigshafen native was the first Opel factory driver in history.
The Second World War and the years of reconstruction interrupted Opel's motorsport ambitions. The 1970s and 1980s were dominated by successes in international rallying, among which the world championship title won by Walter Röhrl and co Christian Geistdörfer in the Opel Ascona 400 in 1982 stands out. In addition, Walter Röhrl/Jochen Berger (1974), Jochi Kleint/Gunter Wanger (1979), Antonio Fassina/Rudy Dal Pozzo (1982), the ADAM R2 drivers Bergkvist, Griebel, Ingram and Sesks plus Pellier in his Corsa Rally4 won a total of eight European championships.
In the 90s, the focus increasingly turned to the circuit. After securing his first victory at Donington Park/GB in 1994, Manuel Reuter celebrated the title win in 1996 in the Opel Calibra V6 4x4 in the International Touring Car Championship (ITC), which at the time had the status of an unofficial touring car world championship. It was also Reuter who finished runner-up in the Opel Astra V8 Coupé in the 2000 season, the first year after the rebirth of the DTM (German Touring Car Masters).
With this DTM car, Opel also celebrated the much-acclaimed overall victory at the extremely competitive 24-hour race on the legendary Nordschleife of the Nürburgring in 2003 with the lineup of Manuel Reuter/Timo Scheider/Marcel Tiemann/Volker Strycek. This is where Opel is still the second most successful manufacturer in history in terms of class victories in the VLN Endurance Championship.
The development of the Opel Astra TCR for international customer racing closed a circle in this respect. The 2-liter racing touring car raced right up front in various national and international championships. Among its greatest successes were the 2016 TCR Trophy Europe win by Belgian Pierre-Yves Corthals and the 2018 ADAC TCR Germany title by Austrian Harald Proczyk.
Opel has always paid special attention to customer sport. One-make cups have a long tradition at the brand with the lightning bolt - whether in circuit racing with the Astra OPC Cup on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife or in rallying with the Opel Corsa A Cup in the 1980s and the ADAC Opel Rallye Cup, which has been held since 2013. Or now with the new ADAC Opel Electric Rally Cup "powered by GSe".