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News: DTM Race Results

Hockenheim I (GER) Hockenheim I (GER)
Race 1: 7th Race 2: 2nd

DTM Race Results
Gary Paffett finishes on the podium at a dramatic season opener

Posted 9th May 2017

Gary Paffett commenced his DTM season in fine fashion with points-scoring finishes in both the weekends' races, including a sensational drive to second place in Sunday's race. 

Heading to Hockenheim, all the DTM teams were unsure of how they would compare to their competitors and with the 18 drivers going head to head for the first time in 2017 – Friday’s session was our first indication of where the teams stood.

The first practice session of 2017 saw the Mercedes team head the timesheets with Gary finishing the 30-minutes up in 2nd place just a tenth behind fellow Mercedes driver Paul Di Resta. 

Race One Saturday -

 

Heading into Saturday’s action, Gary started the day with a 10th place finish in free practice, providing a good foundation for the day’s running. Qualifying followed afterwards and Gary’s name was constantly near the top of the timesheets during the session. When the chequered flag dropped for the season’s first qualifying session, Gary had set a rapid time of 1:31.042 to place his Mercedes-AMG C63 Mercedes me on the front row of the grid in second place – completing a Mercedes-AMG 1-2-3 lockout. Securing his first points of the season due to this s new regulations that award the top three cars in qualifying with points towards the championship: 3 points for pole position, 2 for grid slot 2 and 1 for P3. 

The start of race one saw Gary get off to a good start as he maintained his position through the first lap despite coming under pressure from Timo Glock. Struggling with outright pace compared to his fellow Mercedes driver, Lucas Auer, Gary was eventually passed by Timo Glock in his BMW and slipped down to third place. After five laps, Gary’s pace suddenly improved and he began catching the BMW in front of him and soon enough was right on the tail of Glock. 

After a few laps of battling away with the German, Gary had pulled alongside Glock running down Parabolika and into the hairpin, performed the switchback and got alongside Glock again. The close racing continued out of the corner and the two entered the “Mercedes-Benz Grandstand” neck and neck. On the inside line, Gary braked later than Glock but couldn’t get the car stopped in time – allowing Glock and the closely following Edo Mortara to pass him, dropping Gary back to 4th place. 

Pitting on lap 17, the Thunderhead-sponsored driver re-joined the race behind the Audi of Mike Rockenfeller – who had pitted earlier in the race. The two late pitting Audis of René Rast and Mattias Ekström had caught Gary as well and defenseless to the pace of the Audis’ fresh tyres, was passed before the end of the race – meaning Gary crossed the line in 7th place adding more points to his tally. 

Race Two Sunday - 

 

Sunday saw cooler conditions and with a chance of rain forecast, the scene was set for a dramatic day of racing. To start the day, Gary finished the morning’s practice sessions just outside the top-ten in 11th and ended the day’s qualifying in an improved 7th place. 

Starting on the 4th row of the grid, Gary got off a great start and coming out of turn one, was already up to 4th place! After an incident on the first lap, the safety car was brought out and for the first time in 2017, we had our first ‘IndyCar’ style safety car restart. When the lights went out, Gary got a jump on the cars ahead and there was five abreast heading into turn one! Unfortunately for Gary, he was pushed onto the damp grass and fell right to the back of the field. 

Rain began falling on the track on lap nine and caused uncertainty across the pit wall at all the teams. Gary, who has always been competitive in wet conditions, knew it was time to showcase his variable weather skills and began his recovery from 17th place. 

Gary, on the slick tyres he started the race on, began negotiating his way up the field. As drivers began to pit for their second set of tyres, Gary was not only showing his overtaking and wet weather abilities but also his tyre management skills. Deliberations over the correct time to pit continued, so when Gary and the team made the call to switch the tyres it was done perfectly – making sure he got the full amount of grip the slicks offered and waiting until there was enough rain to warrant the wet weather tyres. 

Pitting for tyres, Gary rejoined the track in third place and right on the tail of the reigning DTM Champion Marco Wittmann. Lighting up the timesheets, Gary was the fastest man out on track and it did not take long until he had gotten past Wittmann at the hairpin and taken second place from the German. Sixteen seconds behind race leader Jamie Green, Gary continued to show his fantastic pace in the wet and when he had crossed the finishing line to take second place, had brought the gap down to only four seconds. 

Gary reflected on an eventful season-opening weekend at Hockenheim as he got his campaign off to a positive start.

“Race two was like a rollercoaster ride. After the restart, I was in fourth place. I got away pretty well, but on Turn 4, I went onto the grass and dropped down the field. After that, I thought it would be difficult to get into the points. But we made a perfect decision on the pit stop and switched to wets at just the right moment. The car was then really fast. I overtook Marco and went hunting for Jamie. The first time I saw the board at the pit wall, he was 16 seconds ahead of me, but by the end of the race, this was down to just four. You must never give up and always fight to the end. All in all, it was an incredible start to the season for the DTM: in both races, all three manufacturers were on the podium, and each time it was three different drivers.”

A sensational drive from the Fitbit-sponsored driver to secure a podium finish at the opening round of the season and places him third in the championship with 26 points heading to the Lausitzring later in the month.