DTM » 8 May 2007
Ten out of ten for comeback king Paffett.
Mercedes' British aces Gary Paffett and Paul di Resta helped the three-pointed star fight back with a vengeance at Oschersleben, by hitting rival Audi with the old one-two.
The shock result – Paffett's first victory in the series since his return and tenth overall – was a landmark in a number of respects, signalling an unexpected success for a year-old car as the new C-Class continued to struggle, Bernd Schneider the best-positioned of its drivers down in a distant sixth place and some 20 seconds adrift. The runner-up spot has also propelled rookie sensation di Resta into the joint lead of the championship – at the end of only his second race with a roof over his head.
On the back of a single point first time out at Hockenheim, McLaren-Mercedes Formula 1 tester Paffett just scraped into the final qualifying shoot-out at Oschersleben, but ultimately could do no better than eighth spot on the grid. Crucial to his impressive race performance, though, was a lightning start that saw him in fourth position entering the first corner. A late second pit-stop subsequently allowed the 26-year-old to hammer in some quick laps on a clear track – something that would prove pivotal to his triumph.
“It's a dream result,” the 2005 DTM champion commented afterwards. “I had never expected to win my second DTM race after a one-year break. The car ran really well in qualifying, then my perfect start and the team's great strategy were key. I thank everybody for their super job.”
Di Resta was equally over the moon with his second place in a 2005-spec machine – the same car Paffett had driven to victory at Oschersleben two years ago – less than four seconds behind the race-winner after 44 laps of non-stop action. Allied to his third position from Hockenheim, it has left the Scot atop of the drivers' points standings, tied with Audi stars Mattias Ekström and Martin Tomczyk, with Paffett just one point further in arrears in fourth.
“It's fantastic!” the single-seater convert enthused. “I can hardly believe I have finished my second DTM race in second place and am one of the leaders of the overall rankings. My team did an excellent job. I want to thank everybody, especially Mercedes-Benz for their confidence in me. The car was perfect throughout the weekend.”
Not quite so fortunate were the other two members of Mercedes' Brit pack, Jamie Green and Susie Stoddart. Despite qualifying within the top five, former F3 Euroseries champion Green went on to receive a stop-go penalty for contact with Vanina Ickx that dropped him back to 11th place at the chequered flag. Lady racer Stoddart was similarly out of luck, struggling throughout qualifying and then falling victim to a late-race spin that dropped her down to 16th.
“I almost stalled the engine at the start,” Green admitted, “which cost me a few positions and left me stuck in traffic. At the second corner I tried to pass Vanina Ickx. I knew Timo Scheider was close behind me so I pushed hard, but unfortunately our cars tangled.”
“It was a difficult race for me,” Stoddart honestly concurred, “and I never found my rhythm. The spin shortly before the end was my fault.”
The next round will take place at the Eurospeedway Lausitz on 20 May.
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