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More points for Gary Paffett at the Lausitzring

Posted 23rd May 2017

Gary Paffett maintained his third place position in the Drivers’ Championship after two top-six finishes at the Lausitzring helped Mercedes AMG-DTM lead all three classifications after the second race weekend of the season. 

This weekend was a special one for Gary as Saturday’s race marked his 150th in the DTM – a feat accomplished by only eight other drivers in DTM history. Kicking off on Friday, Gary finished the first practice session of the weekend in 10th place – eight-tenths off session leader Mike Rockenfeller.

Saturday saw cool air temperatures, nearly 10 degrees lower than Friday, which seemed to help the Mercedes team as they finished the Saturday’s practice session with four drivers inside the top-five – with Gary ending up in 4th place. 

In Saturday’s qualifying session, Gary managed to qualify just inside the top-ten in 9th place but a mere three-tenths behind pole sitter Lucas Auer and, with just nine-tenths covering the entire field, the competitiveness of the series was clear to see. 

When the lights went out for Gary’s 150th race, he initially got off the line slowly – losing 10th place to teammate Edo Mortara. Falling back to 11th place after being passed by DTM Champion, Marco Wittmann, Gary began his resurgence up the field. 

Pitting on the 14th lap, Gary rejoined as the front-running stopper in 10th place – jumping a handful of cars during the stops. Struggling on the cold, new tyres, Gary lost places to the Audi’s of Rockenfeller and Green but still came out of the stops in a better position than prior to his stop. With his tyres now up to racing temperature, Gary began hunting down the Audi’s of Ekström and Green, passing the pair of them heading into the final 30-minutes. 

With the rest of the field completing their pit stops, normal order was restored and Gary crossed the finishing line in sixth-place – picking up eight more Championship points. A dominant opening race at the Lausitzring for Mercedes with a 1-2 race victory and five of their six drivers inside the top-10!

“Overtaking here at the Lausitzring isn't easy, so starting from P9, we had to try and do something with strategy. The car was pretty good, but I think we underperformed in the qualifying. I thought we deserved to be further up. We decided to pit quite early, which gained us a few places by the time the pit stops were through. The difficulty with this approach is that when you leave the pits on the new tyres, it's very slippery. It takes a few laps to get the temperature back in the tyres. I did quite well after that and ended up in a fight with Rocky, Ekström and Green. I managed to beat two of them and finish in P6, which was good.”

Sunday saw yet another close qualifying session, this time with eight-tenths being the difference between first and last. Finishing just 0.069 off pole position, Gary secured a second row start for race two as he lined up in fourth place. 

Race two again saw Gary struggle off the line, losing his 4th place to Maxime Martin – falling back to 5th. However, later in the lap, Gary pulled out a fantastic move on the BMW driver, taking the outside line and snatching 4th place back. A move on Tom Blomqvist, saw Gary move up into a podium position on the fourth lap and was now catching the Audi of Jamie Green. 

A relatively early pit stop for Gary saw him come out behind the Audi of Ekström, who had pitted on the very first lap of the race. Knowing that his tyres would be a lot fresher at the end of the race, Gary remained behind Ekström – waiting for the perfect time to launch his attack without killing his tyres too early in the race. 

Staying on the tail of Ekström for almost 45-minutes, Gary just could not find a way passed the Audi and Ekström’s tyres were miraculously maintaining their grip - despite running all but one lap of the entire race on them. 

Gary crossed the line in 4th place, missing out on a podium by just three-tenths but collected more vital points for himself and the Mercedes-AMG team. 

"I started from P4 on the grid and placed fourth, so I'm satisfied, but not ecstatic about it. I would have liked to have finished on the podium. For a lot of the race, it looked as if I could do it. I had a couple of battles during the first five rounds and pulled off some good manoeuvres against Martin and Blomqvist, after which I was third behind Jamie and Robert. Ekström, who had stopped very early and whose tyres were up to temperature, managed to get passed after the pit stop. Although I think I was maybe a bit faster than Eki, I couldn't find a way past him. We just weren't quite fast enough on the straights." 

Although Gary could not add to his tally of three wins at the Lausitzring, he still manages to come away from the track third in the Drivers’ Championship, his Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Mercedes me team second in the Team’s Championship and Mercedes-AMG topping the Manufacturers’ rankings as well.