Gary Paffett has ended a near five-year victory drought after winning the opening DTM race of the season for Mercedes at the Hockenheimring.

The 2005 DTM champion started the race from pole position, but had to overcome a stern challenge from Mercedes team mate Lucas Auer to secure his first win in the series since Lausitzring 2013.

Despite retaining his lead from pole position during the opening handful of laps, Paffett fell behind the charging Mercedes C63 DTM of Auer on the fourth lap of the race after the Austrian driver muscled his way into the lead from fourth.

Auer pulled off a superb sequence of manoeuvre's during the early stages of the race to move himself ahead of BMW duo Timo Glock and Marco Wittmann, before later slicing past Paffett at the Spitzkehre hairpin.

Although Auer remained in the lead prior to the pit-stop phase of the race, a poor in lap from the Austrian left him vulnerable from Paffett, who pitted a lap earlier than his Mercedes stablemate.

With his tyres already up to temperature, Paffett punished Auer on colder tyres and easily moved himself back into the lead, as the latter duo also came under fire from Glock in third.

Auer's impenetrable defence of second place ahead of Glock allowed Paffett to stretch his lead to almost three-seconds as the opening race inched nearer to its climax.

Despite Auer closing to within 1.4s by the end of the race, it wasn't enough to deny Paffett the race one honours, as Glock completed the podium order in third behind the Mercedes runners.

In what proved to be a bruising battle for the remainder of the points paying positions, Edoardo Mortara finished fourth ahead of ex-Sauber F1 driver Pascal Wehrlein, capping off a dominant afternoon for Mercedes.

Bruno Spengler was the next best placed BMW in sixth, as Paul di Resta and Daniel Juncadella added to Mercedes' impressive points tally in seventh and eighth.

Unable to match Mercedes and BMW, for the time being at least, Audi had to settle for ninth and tenth with reigning champion Rene Rast leading Loic Duval.