Gary Paffett threw down the gauntlet in front of Bruno Spengler at Zandvoort today, announcing with a hard-fought victory that he wasn't ready to concede the 2010 to his teammate quite yet. Gary Paffett, Team HWA AMG Mercedes C-Klasse ...
Gary Paffett threw down the gauntlet in front of Bruno Spengler at Zandvoort today, announcing with a hard-fought victory that he wasn't ready to concede the 2010 to his teammate quite yet.
Taking his second 2010 victory by a scant 0.396 seconds over fellow Mercedes pilot Paul di Resta, Paffett moves into second place in the championship fight, nine points adrift of Spengler's total of 44 for the year, with di Resta just two more points behind.
"I just like this track," Paffett said. "I got the maximum out of the car and driving here was great fun. I thank my team for a great job during the weekend."
di Resta was close to Paffett throughout, but not fast enough to seriously attempt a pass on his teammate -- and not desperate enough to risk taking them both out of the race.
"I came close to the lead, but could not manage to pass Gary," the Scot recalled. "Well done to him on his race win.:
It had once again looked that Audi might start a renaissance, and the Ingolstadt team's Timo Scheider had claimed the pole position yesterday, ahead of Paffett and di Resta. However, the 2008 and 2009 champion stalled his Audi A4 on the grid, dropping down to tenth place as the leading Mercedes pilots sped away.
By the eighth lap, Scheider had fought his way back up to eighth, and teammate Martin Tomczyk let him go past for another position. By extending his first stint to lap 18, Scheider was able to make up two more spots and recover to fifth place.
Another extended stint before the second pit stop allowed Scheider more clear track, and he was able to exit the pits ahead of teammate Mattias Ekstrom in third place, where he would eventually finish -- his first podium of the 2010 season.
Ekstrom took fourth, ahead of highly impressive Miguel Molina. The Spanish rookie had made it through to final qualifying for the first time yesterday -- in a 2008-spec Audi yet -- and started fourth. He might have well finished in the same position, but on lap 28, he allowed Ekstrom to pass and claim the extra championship point the Swede badly needed.
Oliver Jarvis took sixth for Audi, making it four Audis in the top six, but the wrong four positions from just anyone's point of view, bar their rivals Mercedes.
Bruno Spengler, the championship leader, could do no better than seventh, his starting position. He was unable to mount a determined challenge to Jarvis, and with so many rival Audis surrounding him, the pit strategy options were also limited.
"A difficult race for me and our team," the Canadian said. "With all the Audis around me it was not easy to find the right strategy. Our guys did their best and in hindsight you always know better. We made the best out of the situation. "
With the halfway point of the season now past, the teams will next cross the Channel for the seventh round of the season at the classic Brands Hatch circuit in England.
Spengler, Paffett and di Resta will be fighting for the title, while Ekstrom, 16 points behind Spengler's total, will be looking for an opportunity to get back into the game as well.