British racing driver Gary Paffett drove a strong race at the Norisring from the back of the field to finish P4 and maintain his lead in the DTM Championship; 26 points ahead of his nearest competitor.
The Mercedes driver had started the race in pole position but was tapped into a spin on the opening lap and forced to fight his way through the field.
Paffett had a strong qualifying session on Saturday that saw the drivers experience some of the highest temperatures of the year. Posting the fastest time in the first part of the session on just one run he easily moved into Q2 and Q3 and then on to the pole position shoot out. It was another incredibly tight qualifying session around this challenging track but Paffett was able to pull together the best time of the afternoon to line up on pole for Sunday’s race and secure his second pole of the season so far.
After a dry qualifying session, race day was a different story. Rain had fallen all morning and running in the morning warm up session was restricted due to the bad weather.
Lining up on the grid, the track was still wet with areas of standing water but Paffett made a good start and began to pull away from the field on the long straight. However on the entry of turn one he was tapped into a spin and, with the track blocked by cars, rejoined the race in P19.
The safety car was brought out for one lap and at the end of lap two the safety car came in and the race was restarted. Paffett then set about catching and passing the cars in front to make back up the places that had been lost in the first corner incident.
Paffett had a fantastic first stint and by lap nine had passed four cars and was running in P15. The next lap saw the Mercedes driver caught up in a battle with Mortara who was trying to squeeze Paffett out and take 15th place. However Paffett fought back and was able to maintain 15thposition and then set about catching Schieder for 14th place.
By the time the pitstop window opened on lap 23 Paffett had moved through the field up to tenth place. Despite losing time while overtaking the cars ahead of him, Paffett was lapping almost half a second quicker than anyone else in the race.
The team made the call to do a very long first stint and by lap 50 Paffett was in the lead with a gap of 7.6 seconds. Seven laps later Paffett made his first stop of the afternoon, electing to stay on wet tyres.
Paffett rejoined the track directly behind Vietoris and on the main straight overtook him for position. Just three laps later Paffett made his second compulsory pitstop of the afternoon and, staying on wet tyres, rejoined in P4 behind Green. With everyone else having made their two pitstops Paffett had succeeded in jumping five places due to a combination of pitting late and a strong race pace.
In the closing stages of the race Paffett’s tyres began to go off which affected his pace but he was still able to cross the finish line in a comfortable fourth place; securing another twelve Championship points and maintaining his lead of the drivers’ Championship.
“It’s a fantastic result today all things considering. To come through the field from P19 to finish P4 is a good drive and we still leave here with a 26 point advantage in the Championship. However today was also extremely frustrating as we were clearly the quickest car out there and had I not been hit at thefirst corner I am sure I would have gone onto win the race with a sizeable margin;” commented Gary Paffett.
“The team put me on a fantastic strategy today and yet again gave me a brilliant car to drive. It was a fun race battling through the field and we’ve come away with a solid result after a tough start to the race;” continued Gary Paffett.
Paffett heads to the Nurburgring on the 19th August for the next round of the Championship.
Paffett currently leads the drivers’ Championship with 96 points with Green in second place with 69 points and Spengler in third place with 58 points.
Source: Gary Paffett - 2MB Sports Management Ltd