Paffett wins at the Lausitz – Häkkinen third
British Mercedes-Benz Gary Paffett driver succeeded in winning the 2005 DTM season’s second round, held at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz, with Denmark’s Audi A4 DTM driver Tom Kristensen and ‘The Flying Finn’, Mika Häkkinen (Mercedes-Benz), finishing second and third respectively. For Paffett, this result meant his fifth DTM victory, while two-time Formula One World Champion secured his first podium finish in his only second DTM race. Reigning DTM Champion Mattias Ekström (Audi) delivered in fine style to finish fourth in spite of a drive-thru penalty, and Opel’s Laurent Aiello also thrilled the crowds by his great performance. The Frenchman had been last on the grid but during the course of the 48-lap race, he battled his way up to cross the line in tenth position, at the end of the 165.216 kilometres.
By his win, Gary Paffett compensated for last year’s race at the EuroSpeedway when he had also been the first to cross the line but was disqualified after the race. For Mercedes-Benz, Paffett’s success means that the manufacturer’s 2005 spec cars will have to take another 10 kilos ballast weight aboard for the next DTM round, held at Spa-Francorchamps.
Opel’s Heinz-Harald Frentzen also seemed on the way to score points, but when he pitted from seventh place, he lost some 20 seconds due to a wheel-nut problem and rejoined the race as 17th. Allan McNish was involved in a collision with Opel driver Marcel Fässler and his Audi A4 DTM was damaged that badly that he had to return to the pits to retire. Jean Alesi, the winner of the season opener, scored two points by securing seventh place, while Pierre Kaffer, Frank Stippler (both Audi) and Stefan Mücke (Mercedes-Benz) once again proved the competitiveness of their 2004 spec cars by finishing fifth, sixth and eighth respectively.
Thanks to his victory, Gary Paffett has taken the championship lead with 18 points under his belt. Jean Alesi (12 points) holds second place and Mattias Ekström (9 points) is third.
Race quotesGary Paffett (winner, DaimlerChrysler Bank AMG Mercedes): “It was a great race. To once again have made it to the highest step of the podium, here, is something very special. And this time I am allowed to keep my points and to celebrate my victory. I made a really great start and was able to soon open a gap on my rivals. Afterwards, I focused on saving my tyres and keeping the gap on my closest chaser on a constant level.”
Tom Kristensen (runner-up, Audi Sport Team Abt): “It’s just great to have succeeded in working my way up from seventh grid position to second. Gary experienced a slightly too easy race, today, as there was a lot of action going on behind him. On the one hand, I lost some time in these incidents, on the other I benefited. During the course of the race we changed our pit stop strategy and this turned out to be the key factor for our success. It’s great to be back on the podium.”
Mika Häkkinen (3rd place, Sport Edition AMG-Mercedes): “What a fantastic race. I lost some time during my first pit stop, but I’m just overjoyed to have made it to the podium in my only second DTM race.”
Laurent Aiello (10th place, Team OPC): “The great strategy of our team offered me the chance of gaining ten positions. Although I couldn’t see the starting lights, I succeeded in making a reasonable start. I didn’t take a risk in turn one. We completed 20 laps before pitting for the first time and this helped me to make up ground and pass Rinaldo Capello. The Vectra GTS V8 ran great from the start to the chequered flag, therefore, a better result had been possible if only we had we secured a better grid position.”
Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Director Norbert Haug: “Gary’s result is just great. Mika lost some eight seconds due to the problem during his first pit stop, otherwise he would have finished second. But it’s a great to secure a podium finish in your second DTM race, isn’t it? Now we will have to take another ten kilos of ballast weight aboard our cars, therefore, Spa will turn out to be a difficult race for us, as Spa is the circuit were every kilo really hurts.”
Audi Motorsport Director Dr Wolfgang Ullrich: “Considering our initial position we scored a good result. I really enjoyed the battle between Mika Häkkinen and Tom Kristensen. Pierre Kaffer delivered in fine style, this weekend, and secured a deserved fifth place.”
Opel Motorsport Director Volker Strycek: “What a disappointing result. We never found our pace, during the course of the weekend. Unfortunately, our early pit stop strategy for Marcel Fässler didn’t pay off. We were keen on scoring some points, at least, but Marcel was touched by Allan McNish and spun off.”