Nine journalists and three Opel/Vauxhall specialists took turns piloting two Astra CDTI’s at full throttle for 24 hours at General Motors Millbrook Proving Grounds near Milton Keynes, UK. The team was aiming to achieve a world record for diesel passenger cars in the FIA’s 1600-2000cc forced-induction diesel production car class.
In total, Opel and its sister brand Vauxhall attempted twelve world records and six British National Speed Endurance Records in the 24 hour stint, which saw an average speed of 201 km/h (124 mph) around the high speed bowl. The Astra diesels experienced only 22 minutes of downtime throughout the 4,800 km (2,982.5 mi) long journey. The Pilot Super Sport tires provided by Michelin were changed once on each car, as the cornering forces of the bowls steep banking can exact intense stress on them.
Former DTM race driver and Opel’s Director of Performance Cars and Motorsport, Volker Strycek, was happy with the way the cars performed after the world record attempt. “The two Astras were absolutely convincing at full throttle,” Said Strycek. “The combination of performance and efficiency made the 24 hour benchmark possible. Furthermore, the cars didn’t need a single drop of oil”.
Strcyek also provided a four man pit crew, who serviced the Astra’s as if it was participating in an endurance race. Opel says the crew completed efficient re-fueling and driver changes throughout the day and night, helping make the short 22 minutes of downtime possible.
Duncan Aldred, Acting Vice President Sales and Aftersales Opel/Vauxhall and Chairman and Managing Director of Vauxhall, says the project is a testament to the reliability of the Astra, one of the most important aspects of a car to consumers.
“This is real testament to the durability, safety and performance of the Astra in extreme conditions that a normal motorist would never experience,” he continued, “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.”
Opel/Vauxhall is awaiting FIA confirmation that its record attempts have been successful.