Ari Vatanen mainostoimisto Avalon

Opel Ascona / Manta 400


Opel Ascona / Manta 400


"Throughout my career I always had trouble truly adapting to an understeering car. They are boring. Life is meant to be lived sideways!

The Escort had been such a tailor-made glove to my hand that the Ascona felt a bit like a mitten after that. I never managed to get the same level of confidence behind the wheel of the works Opels. They just did not budge to my wishes in a similar manner. Walter Röhrl could master the Ascona with its inherent understeer, but I need to feel that the car turns in first and only after that can I be positive and confident. Then I can step on the accelerator. If the car has not started to turn in, I'm constantly bothered by the uncertainty: am I still on the road by the time the corner comes to an end... or am I stuck in the ditch!

I'm not really sure what made the Opels behave like that. It's probably a combination of things, such as weight distribution, dimensions, suspension geometries, and so on. But they always felt to my hand a bit like a mitten that's not a tight fit. I didn't have too many good drives in them. A car needs to boost a drivers confidence, even inspire him. Then he can step on to a higher level. With these cars I was restricted to what might perhaps be descibed as a technically acceptable level, but never reached the heights of exaltation, where I can feel I'm driving ‘with my eyes closed'. It was the same thing with both the Ascona 400 and the Manta 400. Of course we won the Safari in the Ascona, but it's a marathon event, where so many other things come into the equation.

I was simply not good enogh to squeeze the best out of these cars. However, in the end I have a good taste in my mouth from Opel, having won the Safari. At that time it was a mythical event."