PAFFETT WINS NORISRING ROUND IN FRONT OF A DTM RECORD CROWD The sixth round of the 2005 DTM season turned out to be one of the best and thrilling in the sport's history. The new DTM record crowd of 143,000 spectators (per race weekend) witnessed...
PAFFETT WINS NORISRING ROUND IN FRONT OF A DTM RECORD CROWD
The sixth round of the 2005 DTM season turned out to be one of the best and thrilling in the sport's history. The new DTM record crowd of 143,000 spectators (per race weekend) witnessed thrilling wheel-to-wheel battles, two Safety-Car periods and numerous overtaking manoeuvres.
At the end of the day, Briton Gary Paffett proved once again that he knows how to keep his cool in hot conditions. At temperatures of more than 30°C, the AMG-Mercedes C-Class driver secured his third win of the season, at the Norisring, thus also taking the championship lead.
"This was a truly incredible race," beamed the 24-year old after the race. Quite obviously, the DTM enthusiasts were delighted to also see a German driver on the podium. Behind the wheel of his 2004 spec Audi A4 DTM, Christian Abt finished runner-up, with his brand mate, reigning champion Mattias Ekström, coming third.
The Norisring race couldn't have been much more turbulent: Denmark's Tom Kristensen won the start but was passed by Mercedes-Benz drivers Paffett and Jean Alesi before entering turn one, nevertheless. Five laps later, the same section of the circuit turned out to be fatal, for Jamie Green.
The Briton braked too late into the corner and hit the car of his brand-mate, Mika Häkkinen, resulting in the early retirement of both drivers and the Safety-Car coming out for three laps. A situation many teams used for completing the first of the two compulsory pit stops.
After the restart, the spectators on the jam-packed Norisring grandstands had the chance of witnessing motor racing at its best - with thrilling battles and loads of overtaking manoeuvres. In lap 30, Audi driver Rinaldo Capello made a major crash, resulting in another eight-lap Safety-Car period.
While the leader, Opel's Marcel Fässler, had to retire as his Vectra GTS V8 was massively damaged by the debris of Capello's car, Gary Paffett and his team reacted faster than anybody else, thus laying the basis for the Briton's win.
Paffett hadn't made a pit stop, so far, but now he pitted for the first time -- only to come in for his second stop just one lap later. Because of this strategy, the Mercedes-Benz driver dropped back to tenths position but performed a stunning chase to work his way back up and take the lead.
The battles for positions went on until the drivers took the chequered flag. Behind the leaders, Paffett and Abt, Ekström and Reuter were involved in an ongoing battle for third place. On the final lap, this battle resulted in a collision and Reuter was penalised with a 30-second penalty, thus dropping back to ninth place.
Ekström, however, finished third, with Scotland's Allan McNish (Audi Sport Team Abt) and his team-mate, Martin Tomczyk, taking fourth and fifth positions respectively. Heinz-Harald Frentzen took his Opel Vectra GTS V8 in the 72-lap race at the 2.3-kilometre Norisring to sixth place, while pole-sitter Kristensen had to settle for seventh position, followed by Pierre Kaffer (Audi Sport Team Joest Racing).
Thanks to today's triumph, Gary Paffett (44 points) took the championship lead ahead of reigning champion Mattias Ekström (41 points), with Tom Kristensen (28) holding third position. The seventh DTM round will be held on 7th August, at the Nürburgring.
Gary Paffett (Winner, DaimlerChrysler Bank AMG-Mercedes):
"This was a truly incredible race. My team called me in for my first pit stop right at the beginning of the second Safety-Car phase. In the first corner after having rejoined the race I was told that I should come in right away for my second stop. I have to admit that I was slightly surprised by this move, but at the end of the day, it paid off. During the last 15 laps I didn't take my car to its very limits to save tyres and brakes."
Christian Abt (2nd place, Audi Sport Team Joest Racing):
"It's just great to be back on the podium after such a long time. In the closing stages, I was in a conflict with myself. On the one hand, I had the chance of attacking Gary Paffett, on the other, I could help my team-mate. When I realised that Paffett was too fast, I decided to open a gap for Mattias, in the final lap. But it was Reuter who used this gap."
Mattias Ekström (3rd place, Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline):
"Never before did I experience a race like this. Even the round back in 2002 at the A1-Ring wasn't that dramatic. We provided the crowds a fantastic show."
Heinz-Harald Frentzen (6th place, Stern Team OPC):
"It was a thrilling and extremely gruelling race. After having spun through no fault of my own, in lap one, I dropped back to the end of the field and fought my way back up. At the beginning of the second Safety-Car period, I came in for my second stop but unfortunately, Marcel Fässler was already standing there and my stop couldn't be conducted. A pity, as we had a great strategy, actually."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Director:
"An extremely turbulent race. We were handicapped during the first Safety-Car period as we had already passed the pit-lane entrance and had no chance of calling our cars in. Gary Paffett did a great job. In my opinion, this has been our team's best performance ever. The win was truly impressive and Gary Paffett has taken the championship lead."
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, Audi-Motorsport Director:
"Mattias was turned around three times and finished third, nevertheless. That's a good result. And it was a great achievement for Christian Abt to finish runner-up in a 2004 spec car. He and the team did a fantastic job. But basically, the Safety-Car periods were also a key factor regarding the race result."
"On the one hand, I'm slightly disappointed as we lost the lead in the Drivers' Championship, on the other I'm delighted as we are now the leaders in the brand rankings. The spectators witnessed a race that was thrilling up to the chequered flag. The DTM race at the Norisring represented motor racing at its best."
Volker Strycek, Opel Motorsport Director:
"The entire team displayed a great fighting spirit and today, our car most definitely had what it needs to win. Up to his retirement, Marcel Fässler was the de facto leader and could have secured our first win, today. And although it wasn't to be I'm glad that we proved that we have the potential to win."