Gary ‘Perfect’ is back and keen on gaining the title
DTM couldn’t be much more thrilling. At the Motopark Oschersleben, Gary Paffett (Mercedes-Benz), beat Mattias Ekström (Audi) for the win. When taking the chequered flag, at the end of the 44-lap race, the Briton had a 3.169-second lead over his opponent. “It’s just great to be back on the highest step of the rostrum” said the 24-year old. Thanks to his success, Paffett has reduced Ekström’s lead in the championship to just one point. The third placed driver, Jamie Green, was also delighted with his result. Last year’s Formula 3 Euro Series Champion secured his maiden DTM podium finish. In warm conditions, some 88,000 motor racing enthusiasts travelled to Oschersleben for the DTM weekend: the biggest crowd ever to have attended a motor racing event at the Motopark.
Due to an extremely poor start, pole-sitter Tom Kristensen lost all the chances to win the race with his Audi A4 DTM. When the lights went off, the seven-time Le Mans winner didn’t get off the line and dropped back to 19th position, while Jamie Green (Mercedes-Benz) took the lead from his fourth grid position, followed by his brand-mate, Gary Paffett. Yet, thanks to a perfect pit stop, the winner to-be succeeded in passing Green, thus laying the foundation for his triumph. Behind the leader, Audi’s Ekström and Mercedes-Benz’ Jamie Green battled it out for second place, for several laps. At the end of the day, the Briton made a mistake in ‘Turn 4’ thus offering the reigning champion the chance of passing him for second place.
At the 3.667-kilometre circuit, Bernd Schneider secured fourth place. In the closing stages, the DTM Record Champion was massively pressurised by Tom Kristensen, who had worked his way back up from 19th place, but fended off all the Dane’s efforts to pass him.
The best of the Opel drivers, Frenchman Laurent Aiello and Marcel Fässler from Switzerland, took their Vectras GTS V8 to seventh and eighth places respectively, with Audi’s Allan McNish crossing the line ahead of the Audi paring to secure sixth place. The Spa winner, Mika Häkkinen, was first hampered by a mulled pit stop and a short time afterwards, on lap ten, he went off and turned to the pits to retire as his car was massively damaged. Opel driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen had to settle for 14th place.
In the championship, Mattias Ekström (35 points) holds a one-point lead over Gary Paffett (34 points). Tom Kristensen (28) added four points to his tally by finishing fifth and holds third position in the overall rankings.
The next DTM race will be held on 17th July at Nuremberg’s Norisring, representing the only street circuit on the 2005 DTM calendar.
Race quotesGary Paffett (Winner, DaimlerChrysler Bank AMG-Mercedes): “Following my failed start at Brno, I was rather careful during the start, but I succeeded in passing Kristensen right away. My team made a fantastic first pit stop. During the final 10 laps, Ekström was faster than me, but I didn’t make a mistake and offered him no opportunity of passing me. It’s great to be back on the highest step of the rostrum. Jamie has also delivered in fine style and deserved to take his first podium finish.”
Mattias Ekström (2nd place, Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): “My start wasn’t too good as I lost some time because of Kristensen not getting away. For many laps, I was involved in a fair and tough battle with Laurent Aiello, but then I could pass him. It was a similar situation with Jamie, but in this case, I could pass him only when he made a mistake. Afterwards, I pushed as hard as I could, but unfortunately this wasn’t enough to steal Gary’s win. Due to DTM’s extreme competitiveness it’s really difficult to win a race from fifth position on the grid.”
Jamie Green (3rd place, Salzgitter AMG-Mercedes): “It feels just great to have secured your first DTM Podium finish. I had a great race and the battles with Ekström start to become kind of a routine matter. My start was okay but not extraordinary. Unfortunately, I made a mistake in lap 31 and Ekström used the opportunity to pass me. Nevertheless, it’s a great result for me and the team.”
Laurent Aiello (7th place, Team OPC): “My passenger door opened early in the race, therefore, I was hampered by a massive oversteer. Following my first pit stop, my car handled really well and I could make up ground. After my second stop, I even succeeded in matching the pace of the leaders. Altogether, I’m really pleased with the result.”
Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Director Norbert Haug: “Basically, it’s virtually impossible to overtake here at the Motopark. But we could witness that the guys are able to do so, nevertheless. This proves the extraordinary driving skills of the drivers on the DTM grid. Gary Paffett delivered a perfect race. Mattias could close in on him but never had a chance of passing him. And we’ve witnessed a thrilling battle between Bernd Schneider and Tom Kristensen. This was top class motor racing, entertaining the crowd of 88,000 in fine style.“
Audi Motorsport Director Dr Wolfgang Ullrich: “Maybe Tom was too motivated following his Le Mans win and this was the reason why he made such a poor start. Still, we’ve witnessed a great race. Team Abt Sportsline did a great job with great pit stops and a great strategy, thus achieving the best possible result. If you aren’t able to make use of your first-row grid positions you just don’t deserve to win the race. Gary has delivered in fine style. The entire race was dominated by thrilling battles but extremely fair.”
Opel Motorsport Director Volker Strycek: “Quite obviously, we lost valuable time due to the problem with Laurent’s door. When he rejoined the race after his stop, he was hampered by traffic and then we lost some more time during a lapping manoeuvre. I think, fourth or fifth place might have been possible.”