Gary Paffett secures Nürburgring pole
The DTM Championship leader continues to deliver in fine style. Thanks to a great performance in the one-lap shout out of the ten fastest drivers of the qualifying session, Gary Paffett secured his third pole of the 2005 season, in his AMG-Mercedes C-Class. “There isn’t a better grid position than pole,” beamed Paffett. “Now I’m looking forward to the race.” The 24-year old set a 1:23.161-minute lap on the Nürburgring’s 3.629-kilometre sprint circuit to take pole position. Mika Häkkinen, the idol of the public, lapped the circuit 0.254 seconds slower than the pole-sitter, thus securing second position on the grid for the 41-lap race taking place on Sunday, 14:00hrs CET (covered live by the German TV station ARD from 13:45hrs). In the qualifying session, however, the 36-year old ‘Flying Finn’ gave his supporters a hard time before just making it to the Super Pole by finishing tenths. Paffett’s closest championship rival, Mattias Ekström, took his Audi A4 DTM to third grid position. The Swede was the last to contest his Super Pole lap but a decreasing grip level prevented him from repeating his lap time set in the qualifying session.
The qualifying session at the Eifel circuit was another proof of DTM’s amazing competitiveness, with 15 drivers being split by just one seconds an the pole-sitter’s lead over the 20th adding up to just 1.5 seconds.
DTM Record Champion Bernd Schneider (Vodafone AMG Mercedes) will be fourth on the grid for the seventh DTM round, next to the 2002 DTM Champion Laurent Aiello, who qualified fifth, behind the wheel of his Opel Vectra GTS V8.
Gary Paffett (Pole position, DaimlerChrysler Bank AMG-Mercedes): “My Super Pole lap time was nearly identical to the one I set in the qualifying session. Therefore, I expected to be beaten by at least two Audis. I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s race as there isn’t a better position to start a race from than pole.
Mika Häkkinen (2nd grid position, Sport Edition AMG-Mercedes): “This was a great Super Pole. We changed some minor details on the car, prior to the single lap shoot out – and these changes turned out to be vital. It will be a very tough and close race, tomorrow.”
Mattias Ekström: (3rd grid position, Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): “My lap was okay as I didn’t make any major mistakes. Nevertheless, I was far slower than in the qualifying session. This is a disappointment as I was keen on starting tomorrow’s race from pole. Gary and Mika ahead of me, Bernd and Laurent behind me – the race will be anything but a breeze.”
Laurent Aiello (5th grid position, Team OPC): “I like to race at the Nürburgring as the atmosphere is always great, there. I’m happy with my grid position and I hope to be able to gain a great result in tomorrow’s race for me and Opel.”
Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Director Norbert Haug: “This has been a great and surprising performance of Gary Paffett. I wouldn’t mind if we should succeed in securing the same result in the race. Mika’s style of driving suits our cars really well. Again and again he succeeds in setting virtually perfect laps. And I’m also happy with Bernd Schneider’s performance. He has been battling at the front end of the field from the beginning of the weekend.”
Audi Motorsport Director Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich: “Unfortunately our cars couldn’t repeat their qualifying times, in the Super Pole, although two of them completed flawless laps, from my point of view. It just wasn’t perfect today and I’m not happy with the situation. Yet, we know that our cars are fast so let’s wait and see how the race will unfold. The strategies have changed compared to 2004, they tend to vary much more. Therefore, I expect to witness many different strategies in tomorrow’s race.”
Opel Motorsport Director Volker Strycek: “It was rather difficult for everybody to understand why the Super Pole times were clearly slower than the ones set in the free practice and the qualifying sessions. At the end of the day we couldn’t match the pace of the leaders. Laurent Aiello’s grid position is very good and his car has got what it needs for a good performance. Marcel Fässler was extremely fast this morning and we don’t yet know why he lost four tenths of a second in the first sector. According to his own words, his car was fine.”