Mika Hakkinen scored only the second victory of his DTM career with a resounding lights-to-flag victory in the third round of the championship at the EuroSpeedway, Lausitz, in a race otherwise determined by a pair of messy safety car periods.
With the interruptions both making, and indeed breaking, the race for many drivers, Hakkinen nonetheless defied seeing his lead reduced to nothing twice to hold steady at the head of the field to the chequered flag.
He led Paul di Resta, the Scot scoring his second podium result of the season in his two-year old Mercedes, while pole sitter Bruno Spengler rounded out a perfect Mercedes podium.
From the start, Hakkinen made the best getaway from second position, diving into the lead before the new, tighter first corner, the Finn being followed through by di Resta, with the labouring Spengler having to slot into third position. As for fears that the first corner may well wreak havoc in the midfield, only Christian Abt experienced a spin, although he managed to continue. Alex Margaritis though had his race ended early when he stalled on the grid.
As Hakkinen established an early lead, di Resta slipped back behind both Spengler and Bernd Schneider by the fifth lap, but nonetheless maintained in touch with the 2007 machinery as they eked out comprehensive lead over their rivals.
Jamie Green and Adam Carroll were the first to pit on lap six in their attempts to get the edge over their, the Brits joined in the pit lane by Christian Abt, Daniel La Rosa and Martin Tomczyk over the next couple of laps.
However, the race was thrown wide open on lap 14 when Markus Winkelhock and Mathias Lauda collided, forcing the former into the barriers and sparking the first safety car period. What ensued was a very busy pit lane over the next few laps as drivers attempted to make the most of the caution period.
This resulted in most of the leaders pitting once and then returning again for their second stop almost straight after, but when some stayed out, confusion reigned as to whom was rightfully in the lead of the race. With the safety car returning to the pit lane on lap 24, Hakkinen was back in the lead, this time ahead of di Resta, Spengler, Mattias Ekstrom, Schneider and Mathias Lauda, the top six over a half a minute up on the remainder of the field after the safety car picked up Timo Scheider in seventh by mistake.
Still, that gap was wiped out again when Alex Premat and Gary Paffett collided soon after the restart, the Frenchman retiring with heavy front-end damage while his sparring partner got away unharmed. Nonetheless, the ensuing debris on the circuit prompted another safety car period to clear it.