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Paffett picks winning strategy at Lausitz

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Paffett picks winning strategy at Lausitz

Gary Paffett had to start today's DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) race at Lausitz back from fourth row of the grid, but he more than made up for it with the right race strategy to take the win for Mercedes. Gary Paffett, Team HWA...

Gary Paffett had to start today's DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) race at Lausitz back from fourth row of the grid, but he more than made up for it with the right race strategy to take the win for Mercedes.

Gary Paffett, Team HWA AMG Mercedes AMG Mercedes C-Klasse.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.

"I am really happy about my victory today," Paffett said. "I always knew that our C-Class is a great car and I was confident to achieve a great result today and that was what we did. Thank you to my team - they had the optimum strategy which they executed perfectly."

The five-place grid penalty Paffett had suffered, as a result of contact at the previous race in Hockenheim, had put the Briton in a difficult position, and particularly so as the passing opportunities are few and far between at the Eurospeedway.

Paffett managed to get past fellow Mercedes pilot Miro Engel at the start, but that still left another five cars in front of him. The only realistic way to get past his closely-matched competitors would be pit stop strategy, and Paffett and the Mercedes team played it to perfection.

The leading Audis -- polesitter Mattias Ekstrom and Mike Rockenfeller, who had moved up from third at the start -- took the conventional option with a shorter first stint, stopping at lap 12. However, Mercedes kept Paffett out long past that, until nearly the halfway point of the race, giving him an opportunity to set a fast pace on a clear track.

Bruno Spengler, who had started his Mercedes from fifth, chose another variation on the same strategy, making his first stop with the leaders, but the driving a 26-lap second stint. It worked almost as well as Paffett's strategy, and Spengler rejoined the race after his second stop just behind his teammate.

The Canadian pushed Paffett hard, but was not able to force a mistake, and Paffett was not giving him any passing room on the tight Eurospeedway road course. Just 1.115 seconds separated the two dueling Mercedes at the chequered flag.

Bruno Spengler, Team HWA AMG Mercedes AMG Mercedes C-Klasse.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.

"I'm completely satisfied with second position and eight championship points today - not a bad result from fifth on the grid," said Spengler. "In the closing stages I was faster than Gary, but not fast enough to overtake."

Ekstrom, then, ended up in a spectator position, seeing the two top Mercedes slip into the pits, and then pull out in front of him, unable to respond. The Audis have traditionally not been well suited to this particular track, and after Tom Kristensen's victory at Hockenheim a fortnight ago, they were carrying additional ballast as well.

"I drove a race without any mistakes and still, I wasn't as fast as the two Mercedes," grimaced Ekstrom. "Of course, when you start from pole, the goal is to win, but we will be faster next time round (with reduced ballast)."

While a third place, 14 seconds off the pace, after a start from the pole position is not the stuff dreams are made of, it was far better than the heartbreak Ekstrom suffered last race, when his Audi suffered a puncture on the final lap after having led the entire race.

Paul di Resta had had his eyes on Ekstrom's third place, but the Swede made a determined defence of the position, and di Resta did not have enough speed in his Mercedes to make a pass stick. He finished less than a second off Ekstrom's pace, and was in turn closely followed by Timo Scheider's Audi and Jamie Green's Mercedes. Scheider had lost some time in the pits with a stuck wheel nut, but was still able to keep Green at bay.

Mattias Ekstr?m, Audi Sport Team Abt Audi A4 DTM.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.

Overall, Lausitz was a Mercedes celebration once again, though the weather played an unusual part this time. With the Audi teams delaying their laps in the first qualifying segment yesterdaym three of their top drivers, including Kristensen and Martin Tomczyk, failed to make it to the second segment with the onset of drizzling rain. Tomczyk retired, and Kristensen ended up twelfth after a drive-through penalty.

"Before the race, I didn't expect that we would be strong enough to win here today," said Norbert Haug, the motorsports director for Mercedes. "But this weekend, we were stronger than at Hockenheim. In qualifying, we already had a good strategy. Today, it has been shown that one can do a good race with used tyres. That was the key to success for us today. We have five cars in the points, all eight drivers among the first eleven and a fastest lap time for Jamie. Today, luck went our way!"

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