Opel Astra (G) Profile

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Opel Astra (G) General Information

What happened since the lovely Opel Ascona 400 and Manta 400 days? Ok, already those projects were heavily and unnecessarily delayed for GM/Opel politics. And then we had the Opel Calibra 4x4 Turbo, a project that was called off immediately AFTER its debut. It all seems as if GM/Opel/Vauxhall couldn’t decide if they now hated rallying or not.

Somehow the Opel/Vauxhall Chevette/Kadett/Astra models lost character over the generations. Especially the Astra F (first time that names were identical between Opel & Vauxhall) in its design seemed a bit like loveless put together plastic without any character features. I normally like Opel/Vauxhall, but that capital F: remove the Opel or Vauxhall badges and you could have sold it as a Nissan, a Mazda or a Hyundai. Looking at it this way, the Astra G was a spot on improvement. Still not the most characterful car, but it had a smooth, modern front and a slight, unique step at the back as if it was indicating a proper saloon boot. Not as big or distinct as Peugeot 309 or Escort Mk3, but somehow copying that idea in their very own way to provide something different.

Then it didn’t take long for a rally version of the Astra G to appear. In fact this was even a big sensation compared to previous Opel rally projects. The Opel/Vauxhall Astra G as a road car was only launched in 1998, and already in the same year in March on the BRC Vauxhall Rally of Wales it debuted as a rally car. Not only that, the Astra G was already fully developped into an F2 Kit Car with wide body kit and all! Yet for its WRC debut we had to wait for the Rally GB in November. But full wide body kit F2 car competing in March 98? Has at Opel for once road car and rally car development gone hand in hand as should be?

Interestingly it seemed Vauxhall was more responsible for this project than Opel, maybe that is why they forgot to delay it. In fact this car is the perfect example to my claim in our manufacturer stories, why we count Vauxhall models as Opels in our database, because it is so difficult to draw the line what is what. The Astra G Kit Car was developed and run through British (touring car) Tuner Ray Mellock Ltd and Finland’s potential next big star Jarmo Kytölehto was employed. The car was entered as a Vauxhall on its first BRC events but on its WRC debut Rally GB that same year it suddenly carried German “GG” Opel registration plates. And later in the German Rallye Championship Opel Astra G were seen which carried British Vauxhall registration plates!

The car actually showed promise already on its WRC debut. On this RAC 1998 Kytölehto steered the new Astra G to 14th overall, which is 2nd F2, beating the entire F2 World title winning Seat team together with the works Hyundais, Skodas, Nissans and Volkswagens! Nicky Schelle in the F2 Astra actually came 2nd in the German championship 1999, beaten only by a Subaru Impreza WRC. However the German championship had comparatively weak entries. In comparison the BRC program was much bigger. 1998 was only a test season, really, with Kytölehto as the sole driver doing only 3 events. But in 1999 we had a 2 car team with Jarmo Kytölehto and Neil Wearden. However victory on the Ulster Rally 1999 for Neil aside, the car did not score many top results. In fact, embarrassingly for an F2 only series, for the BRC 2000 Mark Higgins joined Neil Wearden as new team mate and the Vauxhall team was regarded as big favourites, but the title went to the groupN Mitsubishi of relative unknown Finn Markko Ipatti! And also in the WRC the Astra G Kit Car remained a rare sight.

At the end of the 2000 season – after only 2 years! – Opel pulled the plug on the project, stating “Rallying doesn’t suit our image!”. Sure Opel knew what they were talking about. Only another 2 years later Opel spent all the big money to create a Corsa Kit Car for the new S1600 category, ran it for 2 years and pulled the plug on this too stating: “Rallying doesn’t suit our image!” Well done! Both these projects and cars lacked wins but both definitely showed potential! Why spend all that money and effort when already before you said you don’t want to do it? I do not understand. I honestly don't. Yes the BRC 2000 was not a brilliant season, but again the car beat the entire Seat F2 World Champions team on its WRC debut event. Yet the only WRC starts outside UK this car ever had as an official entry was Finland and San Remo 1999. How did Opel know the car they paid for was crap, if they never tried it? I don't think it was crap!

Opel Astra (G) Related Content

Opel Astra (G) Evolutions

Model & Evo. (Activity)
Opel Astra (G) 16v (98-00) 274/8250 263/6500 4121.1828.1425 1000 (3.6) FWD (2632)

Random Opel Astra (G) Photos

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Opel Astra (G) Results

This is an unofficial Car Results list and may be incomplete.

Pos Event Driver Co-Driver # Rego hh:mm:ss
32nd. 2000 WRC Rally of Great Britain M. Higgins B. Thomas #27 [UNKNOWN] 0:00:00
21st. 1999 WRC Swedish Rally P. Svan J. Olsson #29 [UNKNOWN] 0:00:00
28th. 1999 WRC Rally of Finland P. Svan J. Olsson #32 [UNKNOWN] 0:00:00
16th. 1999 WRC Rally of Finland J. Kytölehto A. Kapanen #29 [UNKNOWN] 0:00:00
37th. 1999 WRC Rally of Finland N. Wearden T. Agnew #33 [UNKNOWN] 0:00:00
20th. 1999 WRC Rallye San Remo J. Kytölehto A. Kapanen #37 [UNKNOWN] 0:00:00
19th. 1999 WRC Rally of Great Britain J. Kytölehto A. Kapanen #32 [UNKNOWN] 0:00:00
20th. 1999 WRC Rally of Great Britain N. Wearden T. Agnew #36 [UNKNOWN] 0:00:00
14th. 1998 WRC Rally of Great Britain J. Kytölehto A. Kapanen #18 [UNKNOWN] 0:00:00

Opel Astra (G) Retirements

This is an unofficial Car Model Retirements list and may be incomplete.

Pos Event Driver Co-Driver # Rego Reason
Ret. 2001 WRC Acropolis Rally H. Kaltsounis C. Exarhos #99 [UNKNOWN] SS8 suspension
Ret. 2001 WRC Swedish Rally P. Svan J. Olsson #46 [UNKNOWN] SS6 crash
Ret. 2000 WRC Rally of Great Britain N. Wearden T. Agnew #29 [UNKNOWN] SS17 engine
Ret. 2000 WRC Acropolis Rally H. Kaltsounis C. Exarhos #54 [UNKNOWN] SS11 suspension
Ret. 2000 WRC Swedish Rally P. Svan J. Olsson #33 [UNKNOWN] SS11 driveshaft
Ret. 1999 WRC Rallye San Remo N. Wearden T. Agnew #45 [UNKNOWN] SS7 ?
Ret. 1998 WRC Rally of Great Britain N. Wearden T. Agnew #40 [UNKNOWN] SS26 radiator