With a financial crisis ravaging the European automotive industry, many automakers have tightened budgets, and motorsports programs have, in many cases, been among the first things to go. That's the case at Ford and Mini, but it's the opposite at Opel, which announced its return to motorsports in the form of spec series for two very fun-looking hatchbacks.

The first racer is the Opel Adam Cup, which will participate in the ADAC Rally Masters competition for the Opel Rally Cup Trophy. The series will closely match FIA R2 specifications, and will offer special coaching for younger drivers that place well in the "junior rally" system. There will also be cash prizes.

If hosing the dirt off your car after every race isn't your thing, there's the Astra OPC Cup. Featuring Opel Astra OPC, the highlight of the season will be a 24-hour endurance race at the Nürburgring. As with the Adam Cup, there will be cash prizes.

There's plenty of history here. Opel's rally exploits included a European Championship title in 1974, and again in 1979. This success was followed by campaigns in DTM in the 1990's, culminating in a constructor championship in 1998. Opel also found overall victory in the 24-hour endurance race at the Nürburgring in 2003. To read up more on Opel's and its new racecars, check out the press release below.
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Opel returns to motor sport

-Customer sport and new talent development with circuit and rally track

-Internationally focused rally program with new Opel ADAM Cup

-Circuit program focused on Germany with new Astra OPC Cup


Rüsselsheim. Opel is returning to motor racing in the form of an internationally oriented rally program with the new Opel ADAM and a circuit for the new Astra OPC that focusses on Germany. "These new motorsports activities play an important role in the strategic re-alignment of the company; they are a fundamental element of our brand profile," says Dr. Thomas Sedran, Opel's Deputy CEO. Especially in grassroots, popular sports, the Ruesselsheim carmaker can look back on a long and successful tradition. The aim of the company is to create a new competition that appeals to customers which is both technically sophisticated and reasonably priced, while at the same time providing a platform for young ambitious drivers to continuously develop their talent.

Rally: Professional talent development in cooperation with the ADAC

With its commitment to rally sports, Opel has the European stage now in its sights. After all, beyond the core market of Germany, there is a strong interest in rallying in all of the key European markets of the brand. Moreover, the World Motor Sport Authority FIA also has fixed regulations that provide entry points and advancement opportunities for young drivers. A rally cup version of the new Opel ADAM, which has been closely specified to FIA R2 standards, will be used in the 2013 season. As part of the "ADAC Rally Masters" race series these customer cars will compete in a branded cup (" ADAC Opel Rally Cup "). The allure of the competition is also increased by the fact that the most successful drivers can expect to win cash prizes. In addition, there is a special "junior rally" points system for drivers younger than 27 years. The overall winner of a set of final trials will get special coaching in the next season.

As a strong partner Opel was able to gain an ally in the ADAC that shares an almost identical vision for new talent development. Above all, the ADAC uses its organizational and motorsport infrastructure for the common project. Opel's strategy has been devised to last initially until 2016. After that a modular development program has been envisaged where talented rally drivers can graduate from the "ADAC Opel Rally Cup" to an international level. In the first two of four stages, the ADAM will be employed. In stages three and four the next generation Opel Corsa is expected to be the rally vehicle.

Circuit: "Astra OPC Cup" part of the VLN endurance championships

The automotive element of Opel's involvement on the circuit is the new Astra OPC. It is being made available from the 2013 season onwards as a racing version for customer sports. The Cup cars are engineered to match the "VLN Endurance Championship" standards which are the most popular grass roots racing series in Europe. The cars will also compete in a brand trophy in their own class ("Astra OPC Cup"). The highlight of the season is expected to be a 24-hour race on the Nuerburgring race track.

An especially attractive benefits package is being offered for private competitors, which is not limited to top performance and affordable cutting edge racing technology. In addition to the rally project, there is a pot of money with attractive cash prizes. Additionally, customers benefit from competitively priced spare parts as well as technical and organizational support on and off the race track.

Motor sports history: Opel creates milestones

The most succesful era of the company's rally history began in the mid-seventies. It was quite literally "driven" by the German driver, Walter Roehrl, one of the all-time top rally pilots. During his time with Opel, he and his Ascona A won the European championship title in 1974 and again in with the Ascona B in 1979. The crowning glory of the Regensburg man's era was his world championship title in 1982. He achieved this with his legendary Ascona 400. Opel is just as at home on the racing circuit. In grass root touring cars competitions, the brand with the famous lightening logo achieved countless successes on its home turf, the northern loop of the Nuerburgring race track. From 1993 onwards Manuel Reuter became a favorite with the fan community thanks to his Calibra V6 that competed professionally. He first drove it in the DTM competition and eventually won a title in the subsequent ITC series. Further highlights included the car makers' championship of the DTM/ITC in 1998 in the STW series with the help of his Vectra. Overall victory in the 24-hour Nuerburgring race 2003 was achieved with an Astra V8 coupe.