Storming Drive Through The Field To P6 For Gary Paffett At Hockenheim
British DTM driver Gary Paffett stormed through the field from the back of the grid to take an impressive sixth place at Hockenheim in race one of the 2011 DTM Championship.
Saturday’s qualifying session at the German circuit didn’t go according to plan for Paffett who took to the gravel trap in Q1 and prematurely ended his session without setting a time. Frustratingly for Paffett, up until this point his car had been running well and he had been hopeful of a top three start.
On Sunday afternoon, Paffett lined his THOMAS SABO AMG Mercedes C-Class up in 18th position on the grid. Knowing that he had a car capable of matching the lap times of the front runners, Paffett’s aim was to get a clean and solid start to the race and then work his way through the field.
When the lights went green, Paffett got a perfect start and overtook Frey, Stoddart, Albuquerque and van der Zande into turn one. He then set his sights on thirteenth placed Coulthard whom he battled with until he passed just before turn four.
Paffett continued to storm his way through the pack and by the end of turn seven of lap one he had passed Vietoris and was running in P12.
On lap three Paffett made a move on Jamie Green and was now running in P11, 0.4 seconds behind 10th placed Jarvis. Despite making his way through the traffic, Paffett’s pace was strong and saw him lapping in the low 1 minute 37s; only a few tenths of the race leaders.
By lap four Paffett had got the gap to Jarvis down to 0.2 seconds and on the next lap Paffett made a move on him for 10th place.
Next in line was 9th placed rookie driver Mortara who was now just 0.2 seconds ahead of him but who had more straight line speed in the Audi. Paffett continued to put the pressure on Mortara until the team decided to bring him in for an early pitstop. The stop went smoothly, and on fresh tyres Paffett was able to put in some solid lap times and pass both Mortara and Rockenfeller for P8 over the next couple of laps.
Paffett was now running behind seventh placed Molina who, along with the rest of the top seven was lapping quickly and would be hard to pass.
On Lap 21 Paffett make his second and final pitstop and which saw him maintain his P8 position after all the cars had pitted. Four laps later the safety car came out as a result of the tank can becoming stuck on Tomczyk's car and then working its way loose onto the track. Fortunately Paffett narrowly missed getting hit by the can and was able to line up behind the safety car for the restart.
On lap 29 the safety car came back in and at the restart Paffett got on the power early and was able to take advantage of Molina’s mistake of running wide and overtook the Spaniard for P7.
It took Paffett just one lap to pass Engel for sixth placed and he was then right up behind 5th placed Tomczyk and looking for a way past in the closing stages of the race.
The gap between the two drivers was maintained at around 0.2 seconds, but with the Audi driver having more straight line speed than his Mercedes, Paffett was unable to find a way past in the final few laps so passed the chequered flag in an impressive sixth place; securing three Championship points.
“It is a fantastic result to finish in P6 after starting the race at the back on the grid. After the issues in yesterday’s qualifying session I knew it was going to be a challenge to come away with any points at all. There were no DNFs amongst the top ten so it was brilliant to have a genuine fight up into sixth place;” commented Gary Paffett
“The strategy from the team was spot on and the car handled brilliantly so I want to say a big thank you to the team for all their hard work this weekend. We now go to Zandvoort for the next round and after experiencing the pace of the car today I am sure we will be in a position to challenge for a podium finish and come away with some more solid Championship points;” continued Paffett.
Gary Paffett heads to Zandvoort for round two of the DTM Championship on May 15th. Gary is currently sixth in the Championship with three Championship points.
-source: paffett pr