Klettwitz - With a dominant lights-to-flag victory for Brit Gary Paffett at Lausitzring, Mercedes-Benz makes a strong comeback in the battle for the DTM title. After 52 laps, the 2005 DTM champion crossed the finish line as the buoyant winner and already collected the winner’s trophy for the 20th time in the DTM. In the drivers’ standings, Paffett moved up to third place behind Bruno Spengler (BMW) and Mike Rockenfeller (Audi), who are jointly in the lead.
“I had a great car. This was a perfect race. We got everything out of the option tyres and then tried to keep our margin big enough to prevent Rocky to use the DRS,” Paffett said after his third race win at Lausitz. For Mercedes-Benz, it was already the ninth win in the 15th race at the Lausitzring.
Mike Rockenfeller also showed a very strong race and turned sixth place on the grid into a second-place finish thanks to a good performance and the right tyre management. “Today, we had a different strategy and didn’t start the race with the option tyres. I had a good pace and we got the best out of the car. However, it wasn’t quite enough to catch Gary,” ’Rocky’ said.
The driver in third place also was very happy with his race. Christian Vietoris, who had claimed his maiden pole position on Saturday, already finished on the podium for the second time this season. In the season opener at Hockenheim, the 24-year old had also come third.
In total, 65,000 fans came to watch the fourth race weekend of the DTM. On Sunday, they got to see a race that was marked by tactics. Particularly the timing of the use of the option tyres determined the teams’ strategies. Gary Paffett had a perfect start and immediately took the lead of the 22-strong field.
The Brit didn’t make any mistakes, had the right strategy and didn’t lose the lead until the finish. Behind him in the field, there were plenty of overtaking manoeuvres and position fights.
Behind the trio in front, Canadian Robert Wickens (Mercedes-Benz) finished third. Jamie Green (Audi) and Daniel Juncadella (Mercedes-Benz) scored their first points of the season in fifth and sixth place respectively. In the battle for seventh place, the spectators got to see a heart-stopping finale.
Spengler fiercely defended his position against Mattias Ekström (Audi) and crossed the finish line in seventh only centimetres ahead of the Swede. “For us, it was a difficult weekend. We had hoped that the race would be slightly better for us, but that really wasn’t the case.
I tried to focus on myself and not make any mistakes, but I often had to look into my rear-view mirrors. The DTM is a hard-fought series. Three manufacturers on the first three places of the drivers’ standings, that is what the fans want to see,” the best-placed BMW driver said.
In the points’ standings, Rockenfeller and Spengler each have 59 points. Paffett is following in third place with 47 points, Vietoris is fourth with 40 points. The fifth season round takes place at the Norisring, July 14th.
Wolfgang Schattling, head of DTM management, Mercedes-Benz: “A great performance by Gary. We are really happy, because the first three rounds didn’t go very well for us. Today, we have five cars in the top ten and two in the top three. What more do we want? Of course, there are always things we want to improve and we will do so. But first of all, today, we are happy.”
Dieter Gass, head of DTM, Audi: “Congratulations to Mike, who again has driven a great race today and took over the lead in the drivers’ standings. He was fautless and had a good strategy. Jamie has scored his first points as an Audi driver. Mattias Ekström was very strong, too. We can be happy with today’s result. In four weeks, an Audi driver is heading for the Norisring as the leader in the points’ standings. We will work hard to show a strong performance in our home round, too.”
Jens Marquardt, BMW Motorsport Director: “Obviously, we aren’t happy with the result. But it is so close in the DTM: first, second and third place in the last round at Spielberg and today only one car in the top ten in seventh place. But we are racers and we will come back. At the Norisring, a good performance in qualifying is important again, because here, it was clear to see that it is difficult to make up a delay from Saturday to Sunday.”