Gary Paffett press release
British racing driver Gary Paffett today stormed to victory in the opening round of the 2012 DTM season at Hockenheim.
The first qualifying session of the year saw BMW join the battle between Mercedes and Audi, and it proved to be as close as the qualifying sessions of 2011. Just hundredths of a second separated the drivers from P5 to P7, with Paffett posting the sixth fastest time of the session.
During Sunday’s free practice session Paffett and the Thomas Sabo Mercedes AMG C-Coupe team made some tweaks to the car’s set up and he finished the session in P4; feeling confident of making up some places during the race.
At 1400 local time Paffett lined up on the third row of the grid alongside Audi’s Rockenfeller. Making a good start Paffett was up to P4 by the end of lap one. At turn six on lap two Paffett then made a move on Mortara for P3 and began hunting down Ekstrom for P2. Four laps later Paffett caught and passed Ekstrom and then set his sights on the Mercedes of Jamie Green.
Lapping a couple of tenths a second per lap quicker than Green, by lap 12 Paffett had got the gap to Green down to just 0.6 seconds and was running five seconds ahead of the Audis. One lap later Green pitted while Paffett stayed out. Putting in a series of quick sector times Paffett then pitted at the end of the next lap. A faultless pitstop coupled with a strong in lap meant that Paffett rejoined the track side by side with Green. Battling hard, Paffett stayed alongside Green before he made a move on him at the hairpin and took the lead.
Paffett then began to pull out a lead on Green; by lap 18 he was 1.2 seconds ahead and by the time it came to his second pitstop of the afternoon on lap 27 he was 2.3 seconds ahead. When Paffett rejoined following his pitstop he was three seconds ahead of Green. Pushing hard for one lap, Paffett then backed off to look after the car in the closing stages of the race.
Despite easing off, Paffett still took the checkered flag almost five seconds ahead of Green and 18 seconds ahead of third placed Ekstrom. “It’s a fantastic feeling to be standing back on the top step of the podium. Admittedly it was a little disappointing qualifying in sixth place yesterday but after this morning’s warm up we were confident we had the pace to make up some decent places during the race;” commented Gary Paffett. “It’s been a very dominant performance from the whole team.
They have done a fantastic job with the car over the winter and the car’s performance during the race was exceptional. It’s been a great day for the whole of Mercedes with drivers all the way through the field making real progress during today’s race. We now turn our attention to the next race at the Lausitring where we will be looking to continue today’s great start to the season;” continued Paffett. Paffett heads to the Lausitzring on the 6th June for round two of the Championship.
Paffett currently leads the drivers’ Championship with 25 points with Green in second place with 18 points and Ekstrom in third place with 15 points.