Defending DTM Champion Laurent Aiello broke Mercedes' monopoly on the top step of the podium with a comfortable victory around the Nurburgring short course on Sunday.

The former multiple Super Touring Car Champion passed polesitter Mattias Ekstrom on the run down to the first hairpin and proceeded to maintain a small gap over his pursuers for the entire 41 lap duration.

Aiello was never in complete control however, and it took some very defensive driving on the part of his fellow Audi drivers Ekstrom and Martin Tomczyk part in the early stages to allow Aiello to eke out a gap over Mercedes duo Christijan Albers and Bernd Schneider.

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However even after Tomczyk retired from proceedings on lap 12 and Ekstrom's challenge faded even further, Aiello was never headed apart from the two mandatory pit stop shuffles in which young Briton Gary Paffett starred in his year old Mercedes.

Paffett put in his best DTM performance by far on his way to eighth place and a well deserved Championship point, the 2002 German Formula 3 Champion leading during the first pit stop window and displaying some excellent race craft as he battled with, and overtook, Opel Astra trio Jo Winkelhock, Alain Menu and Jeroen Bleekemolen.

But Paffett's display was taking place some half a minute behind the leading runners and the sizeable German crowd were treated to some inter-team politics in the final dozen or so laps as Mercedes bosses tried to figure out who would be best placed to give chase to Aiello.

Albers held second initially from Schneider with fourth placed Ekstrom no longer a threat and it appeared as though the young Dutchman let the multiple DTM Champion through under orders when the former Zakspeed F1 driver easily moved into second spot in the first turn on lap 28.

However just two laps later Albers fought back when Schneider put a wheel off-line coming out of the Mercedes complex and then vanquished any thoughts of some subtle team orders by pulling away from the current points leader to the tune of five seconds over the final eleven laps.

Even with his late burst of aggression, Albers couldn't fully reel Aiello in, who claimed his first win since the qualifying race for last year's season-finale at Hockenheim by a margin of 1.3secs. Albers was still delighted with second though, as he closed the points gap to Schneider to just one with three races remaining.

Ekstrom crossed the line in fourth position, six seconds behind Aiello and just one behind Schneider, whose enthusiasm appeared to wane following his lap 30 error. AMG-Mercedes teammates Marcel Fassler and Jean Alesi rounded out the top six while Timo Scheider led a struggling Opel contingent home in seventh place, less than half a second clear of Paffett.

Scot Peter Dumbreck who, as usual started the race as Opel's flag bearer, had an eventful afternoon on his way to a final 10th place in the classification after two off-track moments and a penalty for speeding in the pits.