GARY PAFFETT - A BLINDING FAST GUY
The 2005 DTM Champion is called Gary Paffett. The Mercedes-Benz driver secured the title by finishing third in the season finale, held at the Hockenheimring Baden-W?rttemberg.
"A blinding fast guy!" That's the 2004 DTM Champion's assessment when it comes to talking about his successor. Mercedes-Benz driver Gary Paffett dethroned Ekstr?m. Following a thrilling battle for the title that lasted all the year and was taken down to the season's final round, Paffett defeated the Audi driver to secure the biggest success in his career so far. By gaining xx wins and xx podium finishes in the eleven-round season, the always obliging and friendly 24-year old underlined that he well deserves his nickname, 'Gary Perfect'.
Up to the final round, held at the Hockenheimring, the new DTM Champion and Ekstr?m battled it out for the title. Over the course of the season, they alternated as championship leaders a massive seven times. The close battle incited Paffett, who was born in Bromley, England, to give his very best. "I'm better when pressurised," says the Briton. But in spite of the tough on-track battles, fairness always was the top priority for the championship contenders. "I think that we respect each other on the track like no other two drivers in motor racing," the new champion describes his battle with Ekstr?m.
The DTM enthusiasts that attend the DTM weekends are used to witness two different Paffetts. The one is the nice guy in the paddock - always calm, smiling and prepared to extensively sign autographs, while the on-track Paffett is single-minded and quick. Following a win, he loves to clink glasses with his team. "For me, that's just a part of the business," reveals the new champion.
"It's the best way to relax following the concentration during a race." And he uses to be extremely focused, as his friends regularly have to find out. "They call me after a race to ask me if I also think that my grid girl was that attractive. But usually I haven't even recognised her," Paffett smilingly admits.
Still, motor racing isn't everything, for the leisure time golfer. "I like to talk about other topics than just my profession." His family, living in Haverhill, helps the likeable Briton to recover when he's exhausted. He shares his house with his fianc?e, Lisa, his 19-year old son, Harvey, for cats, three terriers and a three-month old dalmatian. Hence, quietness is a kind of rare. But quietness is something he only needs when a race didn't run that well. "In this case, Gary prefers to be alone," reveals Lisa, "Therefore, I wait until he comes and wants to talk about it."
Quite obviously, Formula One represents Paffett's professional dream. Last year, this dream came close to coming true. He was in a promising position to be signed as Grand Prix driver by the Sauber Team, but then he had to witness Canadian Jacques Villeneuve stealing 'his' cockpit at the very last moment; while the dream of his private life will come true on 17th December, when Paffett will marry his fianc?e, Lisa. And for her, he is a winner anyway. "I have known Gary since eleven years. We grew up together. He is my champion!"