DTM

Paffett takes Zandvoort while stewards pursue Audi

Paffett takes Zandvoort while stewards pursue Audi

The 2009 DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) season has produced its share of twists and turns, and this weekend's race at Zandvoort added to the tally. While Gary Paffett was the hero at the Dutch seaside track, the DTM race stewards...

The 2009 DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) season has produced its share of twists and turns, and this weekend's race at Zandvoort added to the tally. While Gary Paffett was the hero at the Dutch seaside track, the DTM race stewards disqualified four of the eight Audis running at the finish, and were still investigating others.

Gary Paffett, Team HWA AMG Mercedes C-Klasse .
Photo by xpb.cc.

"I am really happy about my second win of the year," said the Mercedes pilot after the race. "My car and the pitstops were perfect. I was clearly faster than Oliver Jarvis, but it took me some time to overtake him. Afterwards I had a flawless race and it is great to arrive at the upcoming race in Oschersleben as the overall leader."

Jarvis had had his own moment of glory on Saturday, winning the pole position with his year-old Audi A4, the first time an older car had won an DTM pole. He held the lead for fourteen laps, but on the fifteenth he slipped under Paffett's pressure, making a brief agricultural expedition.

Paffett needed no further invitation, and he slipped past his fellow Briton into the lead. After that, it was clear that Jarvis couldn't quite match the pace of Paffett's Mercedes, which slowly edged into the distance.

Jarvis seemed to have the measure of his other rivals, though, keeping Alexandre Premat -- also in a 2008-spec Audi -- and others behind him.

However, Mattias Ekstrom used a pit strategy with an extended first stint to his advantage, not making his first stop until after Jarvis had made both of his, and just before Paffett made his second stop.

By lap 30, Paffett had a four-second lead over his countryman, but Ekstrom was quickly catching up, and as both Premat and Jarvis slowed down, Ekstrom -- one of the Audi works drivers -- slipped past them.

In the meantime, further back in the field, Markus Winkelhock, also in a 2008-spec Audi, slowed down, allowing Martin Tomczyk to make an easy pass, and slowing down Mercedes driver Bruno Spengler, who was being pursued by Audi's Martin Tomczyk.

Oliver Jarvis, Audi Sport Team Phoenix Audi A4 DTM, leads Alexandre Pr?mat, Audi Sport Team Phoenix Audi A4 DTM .
Photo by xpb.cc.

These passes were what precipitated the initial stewards' investigation, as DTM regulations explicitly forbid the use of team orders, and Ekstrom's and Tomczyk's moves past the two 2008-spec Audis seemed just a little too easy. The decision on this does appear to be several days away, however.

But while five Audis -- Ekstrom, Jarvis, Premat, Tomczyk and Winkelhock, respectively -- crossed the line after Paffett, giving the Ingolstadt team five of the top six positions, bar the victory, things changed soon thereafter.

Winkelhock's car was found to be underweight in post-race scrutineering, and curiously another three Audis, those of Premat, Timo Scheider and Christian Bakkerud, either failed to show up at the post-race weigh-in, or arrived there significantly too late.

All four were subsequently disqualified, elevating Tomczyk to fourth, and Mercedes drivers Spengler and Paul di Resta to fifth and sixth places, respectively.

The end result of all these shenanigans is that Paffett, Ekstrom and Spengler all move past the erstwhile championship points leader, Scheider. Paffett now leads with 24, with Ekstrom at 22 and Spengler at 20 points.

All that, of course, may change once the stewards finish reviewing the evidence for the team orders question.

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