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Mercedes hail 'sensational' di Resta
1 January 1901
Norbert Haug has heaped praise on Paul di Resta after his astonishing drive back into contention during the latest round of the DTM at Le Mans, one that puts him in with a strong chance of sealing the title at the Hockenheim season finale.
In one of the most unpredictable – and confusing – DTM races of all time, intermittent rain wreaked havoc with strategies throughout the field as teams attempted to pit their cars between showers.
For some time it looked likely that Mercedes had gotten di Resta's strategy completely wrong after starting him off with a wet set-up. However, the drying track meant he could do nothing but stop five laps before the pit window had opened.
As such, the tyre change wouldn't count towards his two stops, leaving him well out of contention, while Timo Scheider now looked destined for the title as he led the way early on. Indeed, while di Resta's pace helped him charge back into the points, it wasn't enough to get on terms with the leaders.
However, it was Audi's turn to have their strategy unravel as rain returned just two laps after Scheider had pitted for the final time. Prompting him and others to dive into the pit lane for a third stop, di Resta – who pitted at exactly the right time – simply scythed past his rivals and up to an eventual second place.
Although a win was denied by Mattias Ekstrom's defiant drive on slick tyres, di Resta's second place and Scheider's eventual sixth has hauled him up to be just two points adrift of the German with one race remaining.
“It was not the right decision to start with rain tyres, but in conditions like today, it is difficult to make the right choice. It's super that I finished second despite my extra pit stop and that I am only two points behind Timo Scheider - we knew that it would rain in the final third and my team had the perfect timing for the change; that was crucial.
“My speed was good despite the handicap weight which we now got rid of for the final race. I look forward to Hockenheim and I want to win in the great finale and thus clinch the championship title.”
Haug was the first to congratulate di Resta for his determination against the odds and was delighted to see his efforts rewarded in the end.
“This was an inspiring DTM race one of the very best I have ever seen - these 41 laps of Le Mans were probably more exciting than many of the traditional 24 hours of Le Mans. Our decision for Paul, Bruno and Jamie to start on wet tyres was wrong.
However, the HWA team under Gerhard Ungar and Hans-Jürgen Mattheis did not give up, and so did our drivers, particularly Paul Di Resta. We knew it would rain harder in the final third of the race, and we timed Paul's stop for the change to wet tyres perfectly, which was crucial and brought Paul back in contention.
“He was the man of the race. After his first pit stop he was 38 seconds down, but then he drove a sensational race like in his own league. For some stages he was two seconds per lap faster than the leaders.”
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