Paffett wins Norisring round in front of a DTM record crowd
The sixth round of the 2005 DTM season turned out to be one of the best and thrilling in the sport’s history. The new DTM record crowd of 143,000 spectators (per race weekend) witnessed thrilling wheel-to-wheel battles, two Safety-Car periods and numerous overtaking manoeuvres. At the end of the day, Briton Gary Paffett proved once again that he knows how to keep his cool in hot conditions. At temperatures of more than 30°C, the AMG-Mercedes C-Class driver secured his third win of the season, at the Norisring, thus also taking the championship lead. “This was a truly incredible race,” beamed the 24-year old after the race. Quite obviously, the DTM enthusiasts were delighted to also see a German driver on the podium. Behind the wheel of his 2004 spec Audi A4 DTM, Christian Abt finished runner-up, with his brand mate, reigning champion Mattias Ekström, coming third.
The Norisring race couldn’t have been much more turbulent: Denmark’s Tom Kristensen won the start but was passed by Mercedes-Benz drivers Paffett and Jean Alesi before entering turn one, nevertheless. Five laps later, the same section of the circuit turned out to be fatal, for Jamie Green. The Briton braked too late into the corner and hit the car of his brand-mate, Mika Häkkinen, resulting in the early retirement of both drivers and the Safety-Car coming out for three laps. A situation many teams used for completing the first of the two compulsory pit stops.
After the restart, the spectators on the jam-packed Norisring grandstands had the chance of witnessing motor racing at its best – with thrilling battles and loads of overtaking manoeuvres. In lap 30, Audi driver Rinaldo Capello made a major crash, resulting in another eight-lap Safety-Car period. While the leader, Opel’s Marcel Fässler, had to retire as his Vectra GTS V8 was massively damaged by the debris of Capello’s car, Gary Paffett and his team reacted faster than anybody else, thus laying the basis for the Briton’s win. Paffett hadn’t made a pit stop, so far, but now he pitted for the first time. Only to come in for his second stop just one lap later. Because of this strategy, the Mercedes-Benz driver dropped back to tenths position but performed a stunning chase to work his way back up and take the lead.
The battles for positions went on until the drivers took the chequered flag. Behind the leaders, Paffett and Abt, Ekström and Reuter were involved in an ongoing battle for third place. On the final lap, this battle resulted in a collision and Reuter was penalised with a 30-second penalty, thus dropping back to ninth place. Ekström, however, finished third, with Scotland’s Allan McNish (Audi Sport Team Abt) and his team-mate, Martin Tomczyk, taking fourth and fifth positions respectively. Heinz-Harald Frentzen took his Opel Vectra GTS V8 in the 72-lap race at the 2.3-kilometre Norisring to sixth place, while pole-sitter Kristensen had to settle for seventh position, followed by Pierre Kaffer (Audi Sport Team Joest Racing).
Thanks to today’s triumph, Gary Paffett (44 points) took the championship lead ahead of reigning champion Mattias Ekström (41 points), with Tom Kristensen (28) holding third position. The seventh DTM round will be held on 7th August, at the Nürburgring.