EuroSpeedway Lausitz: the analysis - part 1
78,000 spectators came to the EuroSpeedway Lausitz for the second round of the 2005 DTM season and witnessed several great performances, during the course of the 48 laps: pole-sitter Gary Paffett, who lost his lead only twice – during the pit stops; Mika Häkkinen, who clinched a podium finish in his only second DTM race; three 2004 spec car drivers - Pierre Kaffer, Frank Stippler and Stefan Mücke – who succeeded in scoring points. We have checked the performances of teams and drivers and assigned grades from 1 to 6.
Gary Paffett: A perfect weekend for the 2004 season’s runner-up. The young Briton was the quickest in the Super Pole, thus securing pole position. In the race, he made a great start and soon opened a gap on his rivals, with the two flawless pit stops performed by the HWA pit-crew being also vital. Paffett: “This was an easy race.” His extra: he was the first driver to enjoy the champagne shower on the DTM podium together with two-time Formula One World Champion Mika Häkkinen. Just perfect, Gary!
Tom Kristensen: The smart Dane has settled in DTM. Having been forced to leave Hockenheim – the venue of the season kick-off – empty-handed, Kristensen used the second DTM round to compensate for this defeat by finishing second, thus leaving the Lausitz with eight points on his tally. His grid position, however, wasn’t ideal, as Kristensen had to settle for seventh position, in the Super Pole. According to Kristensen’s own comments, he controlled Häkkinen at any time. At any time? In the closing stages, the Finn succeeded in closing the gap to Kristensen to just 0.4 seconds. But at the end the day, the Dane’s year of DTM experience paid off.
Mika Häkkinen: The two-time Formula One World Champion was the best rookie in the race at the EuroSpeedway. In his only second DTM race, Mika Häkkinen has proven that he is able to match the DTM pace – including wheel-to-wheel battles. Hadn’t he lost some time due to a problem during his first pit stop, the newcomer probably had secured the runner-up position. And he set the fastest race lap. Great, Mika!
Mattias Ekström: With two races being over, the reigning DTM Champion still waits for his first podium finish of the 2005 season. Following a collision with Jamie Green, the Swede’s Audi A4 DTM tended to come apart, and the race control reacted by penalising Ekström with a drive-thru penalty for having caused the incident. At the end of the day, Ekström finished fourth, just 0.5 seconds ahead of his brand-mate, Pierre Kaffer.
Pierre Kaffer: Apart from Mika Häkkinen, Pierre Kaffer was the best rookie of the weekend. His 12th grid position wasn’t ideal, but behind the wheel of his 2004 spec car, Kaffer worked his way up and gained seven positions to score valuable points. Worth seeing: for several laps, Kaffer battled it out with Mika Häkkinen. Yet, in lap X he displayed some respect and let the Finn pass in the new ‘ADAC-Kurve’.
Frank Stippler: Just as his team-mate, Frank Stippler also succeeded in scoring points with his 2004 spec car, but at the same time, he was defeated in the team internal battle. Maybe he should have pushed a little more, in the closing stages.
Jean Alesi: One of the weekend’s misadventurers: during his first pit stop, the refuelling can was seized in the filler pipe – and during the second stop, he lost more time due to a shut wheel nut. In spite of these problems, he worked his way up from 11th grid position to finish 7th.
Stefan Mücke: In his home race, the local hero once again succeeded in scoring points. Having made a poor start, Mücke lost several positions right at the start and had to battle it out with Christian Abt for eighth position.
Christian Abt: At Hockenheim, Christian Abt turned out to be the best Audi driver and finished fourth – behind the wheel of a 2004 spec car. At the Lausitz, he just missed the points, but in the qualifying, he failed to deliver and was even slower than his fastest lap time set in the free practice session. Therefore, he had to settle for 18th grid position. But it’s quite an achievement to gain nine positions, in the highly competitive DTM field.
Laurent Aiello: The best Opel of the weekend but – unfortunately – no points scored. The Frenchman had to endure an extremely difficult qualifying, but he hoped for a better result in the race. Succeeded in working his way up from 20th grid position to finish tenth.