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Hockenheim awaits for Paffett in 2017 season opener

Posted 2nd May 2017

Gary Paffett gets his 2017 Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) season underway this weekend at the season-opener in Hockenheim. “Team Captain” Gary Paffett continues his long-held association with Mercedes as he leads the Mercedes-AMG Motorsport DTM team into what is a ground-breaking year for the series.

A new era will begin for the DTM at Hockenheim with the first race weekend of the 2017 season when the touring cars race for the first time, having undergone big changes as a result of the new regulations. More than 70% of the parts on Paffett’s #2 Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM Mercedes me car are new for 2017. The new generation of cars will head out for their first two races on the weekend that marks the 400th race for Mercedes-AMG Motorsport in the DTM.

Testing at Hockenheim quickly revealed the increased pace of the new breed of DTM cars, immediately lapping two seconds faster than their predecessors had done during the 2016 finale at the same venue. The Mercedes-AMG Motorsport DTM Team spent four days testing at the Hockenheimring in early April, one month before the start of the season. The Mercedes-AMG Motorsport DTM drivers posted 1,580 laps, equating to 7,227 km, which was by far and away the most kilometres of any of the three manufacturers.

Paffett is confident that the team have enjoyed a successful winter and that the car is well-placed heading into the weekend.

“Finally, we're off to the season opener in Hockenheim. I feel well prepared and the last test showed that the pace is there. The team have done brilliantly well with the new car. Nevertheless, it will be very close, as our competitors have been working as hard as us. The weekend won't be straightforward, but I've got a feeling that our car will be good if we can set it up right and not make any mistakes.”

“There are some big innovations and some more minor ones this season in the DTM. The new tyres especially will be a huge change for us. Driving back out on cold tyres after a pit stop will be quite new to us. We've practised a lot during the winter and have gone through plenty of simulations, but it's something very different when you have to do it for the first time at a race weekend. And so, we have every reason to look forward to an exciting weekend."

Head of Mercedes-AMG Motorsport DTM, Ulrich Fritz, feels that the changes to the cars make the intensely competitive series even harder to predict.

“The whole team are delighted that the long break without any DTM racing is finally coming to an end. Staff have worked hard these last few months, and everyone now wants to see the results of their work on the track. The special thing about the first race weekend at Hockenheim is that it shows where every manufacturer stands.”

“The tests have not yet given us a clear picture, so there's a certain amount of tension in the run-up to the first races. I'm also looking forward to the new pit stops. The mechanics will have even more demands placed on them and carry an even greater responsibility for the progress of the races. I'm curious to see how the teams handle it and am counting down the hours until the traffic lights turn green again. We'll also be celebrating a very special anniversary on Sunday, marking the 400th time since 1988 that our team has competed in the DTM. We've achieved 175 victories so far. That's an outstanding performance and one that makes you proud to work for the brand with the three-pointed star.”

Over 100,000 spectators are expected as the first race of the year gets underway at 14:48 GMT on Saturday, with race two commencing at 15:18 GMT the day after.