Britain's Gary Paffett took the win at the Norisring Sunday in what organisers reckoned was 'one of the best and most thrilling races in the sport's history'.

Paffett, who started from P2, took the lead from pole-sitter Tom Kristensen into turn one and the two battled until they pitted on lap 30.

Both missed out on pitting earlier under the safety car on lap 6 - following Jamie Green's collision with his brand-mate Mika Hakkinen - as they had already passed the pit entry.

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Paffettt then opted to come in for his second stop just one lap later on lap 31, when the safety car was deployed again following Rinaldo Capello's crash. Paffett resumed in tenth place and after the race re-started on lap 38, he improved to second within 11 laps and after Kristensen's second stop on lap 60, Paffett took the lead and maintained it to the flag.

He eventually triumphed by 3.627 seconds to take his third win of the year and the lead in the drivers' championship.

"This was a truly incredible race," he noted. "My team called me in for my first pit stop right at the beginning of the second safety-car phase. In the first corner after having rejoined the race I was told that I should come in right away for my second stop. I have to admit that I was slightly surprised by this move, but at the end of the day, it paid off. During the last 15 laps I didn't take my car to its limits as I wanted to save the tyres and brakes."

Christian Abt took second, 3.627 seconds behind Paffett in his Audi. He was delighted to be back on the podium.

Reigning DTM champion, Mattias Ekstrom was third but only after a heated battle with Manuel Reuter, which saw the two collide on the final lap. Reuter was later handed a 30-second penalty dropping him back to ninth place overall.

"Never before did I experience a race like this," said Ekstrom. "Even the round back in 2002 at the A1-Ring wasn't that dramatic. We provided the crowds a fantastic show."

Allan McNish meanwhile ended up fourth, ahead of Martin Tomcyzk and Heinz-Harald Frentzen, the latter the best placed of the Opel drivers.

"It was a thrilling and extremely gruelling race," reflected the German. "After having spun through no fault of my own, in lap one, I dropped back to the end of the field and fought my way back up. At the beginning of the second safety-car period, I came in for my second stop but unfortunately, Marcel Fassler was already standing there and my stop couldn't be conducted. A pity, as we had a great strategy, actually."

Pole sitter, Tom Kristensen had to settle for seventh, while the final point went to Pierre Kaffer.

Of the rest, seven drivers failed to make it to the finish, most noticeably Green and Hakkinen after the former out-braked himself putting both out of the event.

"When I braked for the hairpin, the car started sliding and I wasn't able to control it," explained Green. "Therefore I hit Mika and also touched Ekstrom [who I was trying to pass]. I'm very sorry for the retirement and will apologize to both."

Jean Alesi was another of those who didn't go the distance, when he had a mechanical problem while running third.

"The drive problem cost me valuable points today," said Alesi. "The car performed very well and starting fourth a podium finish would have been possible: I'm sorry for my team which had worked very hard."

The DTM now heads to the Nurburgring, where round seven will take place on August 7.