Nancy Knapp Schilke
British racer Gary Paffett left nothing to chance as he converted his pole into today’s victory on the Brands Hatch Indy circuit. With the win, the HWA Mercedes driver extended his points lead in the 2012 Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) championship battle. Placing second was Bruno Spengler for BMW and Audi’s Mike Rockenfeller notched the final step of the podium.
“It's a great feeling to win my home race. I’ve now finally secured my first DTM victory at this track,” said the victor.
Taking the lead as the lights went out, Paffett was unstoppable on the 1.929 km circuit, and he had a tad bit of help when his teammate Christian Vietoris had a sluggish start from the front row. However, the rival teams from the BMW and Audi camps were able to get around the German’s Mercedes, and attempt to chase down Paffett.
It was a perfect race that we controlled from start to finish.
The Briton did not make a single mistake, nor did his Mercedes team, as he had a nice cushion before his mandatory pit stop on lap 41. Paffett kept the lead to the end and sailed over the finish line to earn his second victory this year with a margin of 5.065 seconds.
“The team and my THOMAS SABO Mercedes AMG C-Coupé were simply terrific – it was a perfect race that we controlled from start to finish. Still, it was not easy, as Bruno Spengler kept piling on the pressure but we stayed in front. Three races, two wins and one second place – let’s hope this season continues just as it began,” Paffett said.
On the start, five drivers were able to get around Vietoris with BMW Team Schnitzer’s Spengler leading the pack. Behind him was Rockenfeller in his Audi Sport Team Phoenix A5, moving from fourth on the grid to third.
Spengler commented, “I am very happy with this second place. Gary Paffett was very quick, particularly in the first stint. Despite this, I was able to hang on to his coattails. It reminded me of my win at the Lausitzring, but with the roles reversed. It was a tough race. You do not have much time to take a breather in the cockpit. The team was brilliant again. The second stop was particularly good. My front-left splitter broke towards the end of the race, which made things a bit exciting. But we did enough. The season has been great so far. The three manufacturers are extremely evenly matched, which makes it fun for us drivers as well as the fans.”
As Spengler alluded to, the broken splitter near the end of the race opened the door for Rockenfeller who saw the chance to overtake Spengler; however “Rocky” ended up just 0.514 seconds adrift of the Canadian. "I’m very pleased with the race because we squeezed out the maximum. I had a good start and then gave everything on each lap - my eyes always pinned on the gaps. My crew did a tremendous job and made perfect pit stops, I really want to thank them for that. We won’t let up now but work hard on making up the gap we’ve still got. I think today was a good step for this,” said Rockenfeller.
The man on the move up the leaderboard was Martin Tomczyk in his BMW Team RMG M3; the German was picking off his rivals one at a time and decreased the gap between his car and the Audi of Rockenfeller. Tomczyk missed the podium by just over four tenths of a second.
“Generally speaking, fourth place in Brands Hatch is a good result for me and my BMW Team RMG. The pace of my car was very good today. I made a little mistake at the start, and my pit stops were not quite perfect. Maybe we could have had an even better result today. However, my team and I are getting better with every race. With that in mind, I am full of confidence for the challenges ahead,” Tomczyk said.
Following Tomczyk was Audi Sport Team Abt’s Mattias Ekstrom but he was unable to make the move on the German and ended up fifth at the checkered flag. "Recovering from position eight on the grid to fifth is at least a small success experience and results in a few more points in the championship. I had a decent start and was able to make up a couple of places later,” said the Swede.
Vietoris, who fought back after his slow start, placed sixth. “I didn't get a very good start off the first row unfortunately,” he said. “That caused me to drop back a few places at the start of the race. From then on I found it difficult to move up the field but I eventually did manage to gain a few places on the others and collect some important points with sixth place.“
Rounding out the top five in today’s action-packed race were Miguel Molina (Audi Sport Team Phoenix), Jamie Green (HWA Mercedes), and Audi Sport Team Rosberg’s teammates Edoardo Mortara and Filipe Albuquerque.
The points standings at the end of the third round on the DTM calendar show Paffett now at 68 followed by Spengler with 43 points and the defending champion Ekstrom has 35 points.