DTM Oschersleben: Paffett wins in old car

Gary Paffett, Mercedes, DTM, 2007Gary Paffett took a magnificent win at Oschersleben in last year’s Mercedes C-Class.

If that weren’t surprising enough, team mate Paul di Resta now leads the title race in a 2005 Mercedes! He is tied at the top with Martin Tomcyk.

Oschersleben produced a massively different result to that seen at Hockenheim and leaves the title race extremely tight.

At the start Mika Hakkinen failed to convert his pole position into the lead as Mike Rockenfeller surged ahead from second – and Mattias Ekstrom followed him through from third.

The much anticipated chaos at the remodelled turn one failed to materialise. The second time around Hakkinen threw his Mercedes down the inside of Ekstrom and got ahead, but Ekstrom swiftly re-passed him.

Ekstrom didn’t stay ahead much longer, however, as he was summoned in for a drive-through penalty after jumping the start. This left Rockenfeller ahead of Hakkinen, Bruno Spengler and Gary Paffett, who had made an excellent start from tenth.

Paffett was the first driver to take the opportunity to pit. While Hakkinen got within 0.3s of Rockenfeller Paffat was running in clear air quicker than the pair of them. Athough Hakkinen jumped ahead of Rockenfeller via the first set of stops Paffet leapfrogged the pair of them giving him the effective lead, though many other drivers had not yet made their stops.

This left all the ‘leaders’ battling with the drivers who had yet to make their first stops with the inevitable hair-raising moments. The first came as Jamie Green and Vanina Ickx tangled. Green effectly dumped Ickx into the barriers putting her out of the race – and ruining his as he was called in for a penalty.

Up front Paffett was showing everyone how to do it properly with a forceful pass on Alexandre Premat??????s stand-in Marco Werner and turns one and two. Paffett, lights blazing on his 2006 Mercedes, was hammering around the circuit and thumping over the kerbs, stretching ever further ahead of his pursuers.

Hakkinen dashed into the pits after Ickx’s crash, probably anticipating a safety car period, and became the first of the leaders to make a second stop. Rockenfeller soon did likewise and by lap 24 was climbing all over the back of Hakkinen.

Paffett made his second stop on lap 28. His crew turned him round in under five seconds and had him back out again ahead of Hakkinen.

This left Paul di Resta in a two year-old Mercedes temporarily in the lead ahead of his final stop. But, to the surprise of many, when he made his final stop he resumed in second ahead of Hakkinen!

With two laps to go Rockenfeller denied Mercedes a monopoly of the podium by diving past Hakkinen at turn two. It tore a chunk out of the back of the Audi and left the former F1 champion limping into the pits with a shredded rear tyre.

That was the last act of a dramatic race. Paffett and di Resta made it a British one-two and a crucial blow against Audi for Mercedes – even if it was done by the old car.

The next round is at the Lausitzring in two weeks’ time.

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