As he looks ahead to the 2008 DTM campaign, former champion Gary Paffett has reflected on his return to the leading tin-top series last year – and a certain race at Oschersleben in particular.
On only his second outing since his comeback to the category, McLaren Formula 1 test driver Paffett astounded the opposition and made history by storming to victory at the Saxony circuit – the first driver ever to do so in a year-old car. Though he would not again make it up onto the podium over the course of the season, the Bromley-born ace did register four further points finishes from the ten meetings, securing him ninth spot in the final standings – and highest-placed representative with a 2007-spec machine.
“I thing we did a quite a good job,” he mused. “We could have been even better, but that's rather difficult when you're racing an older-spec car. Hence, we just had to be happy with our achievements.
“We didn't expect it [victory at Oschersleben], but we knew it was possible. It was just fantastic. I had won DTM races before, so crossing the finish line of a DTM race as winner wasn't something new for me, but it was the first time that I had done so with an older-spec car. That's why it was something special.
“Furthermore, it was also the maiden win for Team Persson. My win definitely represents the season highlight – winning a race is always something special.”
The 26-year-old registered his highest qualifying performance of the year with fourth place at the Norisring at the end of June, only to miss out on a rostrum finish by just one position. A podium similarly went begging at Mugello in Italy a month later, what Paffett classes as the nadir of his campaign.
“Mugello was my season low,” the Mercedes ace admitted. “In the race, the car was just fantastic and I succeeded in battling my way up to sixth position. Then we made a pit-stop during the safety car period, and right after having rejoined the action I was hit by Martin Tomczyk in turn one. A true pity as a podium finish would have been possible.”