7 June 2004
Lausitz 2004: Ekström wins after Paffett DSQ.
Audi's Mattias Ekström was declared the winner of the fourth round of the DTM, held at the Lausitzring on Sunday, after the original winner, Gary Paffett, was disqualified for a fuel irregularity.
Paffett's AMG Mercedes C-class came to a halt at the end of his in-lap, and the 23-year old got out of his car to return to the pits - and the welcome of his team - on foot. However, according to DMSB regulations, the driver should remain in his car until it reaches parc fermé in order to give stewards a chance to gauge the exact racing weight of the driver/car combination. In addition, at least 1.5 litres of fuel should be available to be taken from any competing car at any time during an event, and this was also not the case with Paffett's car.
The Briton was eventually disqualified five hours after the race had ended, and second-placed Ekström declared as the new winner. The remaining drivers were all moved up a place in the final results, but everything could change again as Paffett's team appealed against the stewards' decision.
Ekstrom, however, admitted that he was only second best on the day.
"Of course, I'm pleased about the points towards the championship but, to be fair, it was Gary who won on the circuit today," the Swede said, "His team obviously made a mistake.“
Mercedes-Benz motorsport boss Norbert Haug did not exactly agree with Ekstrom's assessment, and hoped that the stewards would reverse their decision.
"Gary won on the track and not by dint of forbidden advantages," he insisted, "His disqualification is a punishment that the team considers too severe. That's why we have appealed and I hope that a decision will be made in the interest of the sport.“
Christijan Albers came second in his AMG-Mercedes C-class, while last year's winner on the 4.534km course, Bernd Schneider, moved up to third. Opel driver Laurent Aiello made up a lot of lost ground, moving into fourth from 13th and finishing ahead of Frenchman Jean Alesi's Mercedes.
With a first corner accident unfolding in their mirrors, Ekstrom and Albers resumed their ongoing battle for supremacy, the Swede getting the upper hand on lap one, and Paffett also coming through to push his Mercedes team-mate down to third. The first corner incident, however, proved costly for Opel, with Peter Dumbreck losing places and Heinz-Harald Frentzen hitting the barrier before heading for the pits. Mercedes' veteran Bernd Maylander was also involved and limped back to the pits to retire
The start was a disastrous one for Opel but, ironically, it was precipitated by a collision between two Mercedes, as Paffett and Jean Alesi made contact. Dumbreck was knocked wide on to the grass, while Timo Scheider was forced to spin in avoidance and rejoin at the tail of the field.
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