DTM

Paffett secures HWA drive

Paffett secures HWA drive

As expected, Briton Gary Paffett has secured the fourth and final new Mercedes C-Class for 2004. The 22-year old is promoted to the HWA squad after driving a year-old Mercedes chassis with Team Rosberg last season. Paffett, stepping into the...

As expected, Briton Gary Paffett has secured the fourth and final new Mercedes C-Class for 2004. The 22-year old is promoted to the HWA squad after driving a year-old Mercedes chassis with Team Rosberg last season. Paffett, stepping into the seat vacated by Marcel F?ssler, who joined Opel for 2004, will be teammates with DTM champion Bernd Schneider, Christijan Albers and Jean Alesi.

Gary Paffett.
Photo by Nikki Reynolds.
The first tests of the new four-door car took place at Barcelona last week and it has the same engine as the CLK, which had been used since 2000.

"I'm really happy about my promotion to the HWA team, and I'm proud that they chose me to drive the new AMG-Mercedes C-Class for the roll-out," said Paffett. "I was impressed from the first lap. The car has great potential."

Teammate Alesi was equally optimistic about the car: "Compared to the CLK, the C-Class is even easier to drive. Its basic setup is very good and I feel really comfortable in this car."

Reigning champion Schneider predicts a tough fight this season: "The 2004 DTM will be even harder than last year's championship," he said. "First, I have tough opponents among the Mercedes-Benz drivers. Then Opel has hired several good drivers, and Audi participates now as a factory team."

Albers challenged Schneider for the title all the way to final race last year and in 2004 he's hoping to snatch the crown. "Last year, I won four races, but I finished runner-up behind Bernd who had won only twice," he commented. "This year, I hope to be more consistent and to score more often. That should increase my chance to win the title."

Vice president of Mercedes-Benz motorpsort Norbert Haug is happy with the mix of experience and young challengers in the HWA squad. "With Bernd Schneider, Jean Alesi, Christijan Albers and Gary Paffett, our team is a good combination of experienced drivers and ambitious talents," he said.

"The first three-day test of the new C-Class demonstrated that Gerhard Ungar and his team created a good basis for the new season. I expect the 2004 DTM to become the hardest fought ever."

Three more youngsters currently make up the rest of Mercedes' entries for 2004, with one more driver to be confirmed. Markus Winkelhock (23), Jarek Janis (20) and Stefan M?cke (22) will drive the CLK-DTM this season.

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