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News: DTM Race Results

DTM Race Results:
Paffett charges to points in Zandvoort

Posted 22nd August 2017

Gary Paffett delivered a double point scoring weekend in Zandvoort to complete a successful return to his favourite track.

Returning to DTM action after the summer break, Gary and the Mercedes team travelled to Holland for the sixth round of the season in the dunes of Zandvoort. A favourite amongst both fans and drivers, the weekend was set to be an exciting one as the season entered the business end of the year.

Starting off the weekend with free practice on Friday, Gary finished the session in 5th place as he posted a 1:30.071 lap time that was just half a second off the fastest man, Augusto Farfus.

Saturday

 

Overnight rainfall saw the newly laid Zandvoort track surface lose all of its rubber from the Friday sessions and the ‘green’ surface would be challenging for both teams and drivers. Gary, however, seemed to thrive off the uncertainty of the track and was the fastest Mercedes as he finished the practice session in 6th place.

Moving onto qualifying, Gary again finished as the fastest Mercedes after an interrupted session saw qualifying theoretically ended after the first runs as rain arrived at the track. A 1:28.375 lap time saw Gary qualify in 8th place and in a good position to pick up more vital championship points.

A solid start to the race from Gary saw him get off the line well and apply pressure on the leading cars but the Thunderhead-sponsored driver wasn’t quite close enough to pull off an overtake.

As Blomqvist pitted at the end of the first lap, Gary was promoted up to 7th place, just behind the Audi of Loïc Duval. Gary was clearly quicker than Duval through the tight sections of the track but didn’t have the same straight-line speed as the Audi – making a pass even harder to attempt.

Staying behind Duval, Paffett eventually followed Farfus into the pits on the ninth lap and Gary returned to racing in 12th place.

As the race reached the halfway stage, Gary was in a close battle with Farfus and had Di Resta and Nico Müller on his tail.

Managing to maintain his position, Gary then had to worry about René Rast who was making a charge through the field on his fresh tyres from stopping later than everyone else.

With a clear disadvantage on the grip levels, Gary came under pressure from Rast and with 20 minutes remaining, Rast got past Gary – demoting him to 9th place.

With all the drivers having now completed their mandatory pitstop, Gary was running in 9th and had begun to close in on Rast as the race entered its final 10 minutes.

Pressurising the German, Gary wasn’t close enough to Rast to launch an overtake but kept on hustling him to force a mistake. With just two minutes left on the clock, Rast eventually cracked under the pressure, locking up into turn one and opening the door for Gary to drive straight through and up into 8th place.

Crossing the finishing line in 8th, Gary was pleased with the result.

“I started in P8 and finished in P8. We got some points, but I really wanted to move forward in the race, and I thought we had the car to do so. The start of the race was OK, and I held my position. I was being backed up by Farfus, and Duval was slowing us down on purpose, backing us up from the leader, which was frustrating. After the pit stop, Paul managed to overtake me, and then I followed him around for the whole race. It was really disappointing overall, because I thought we could have had a really strong race." 

Sunday

 

Sunday didn’t get off to the ideal start for Gary as he struggled in the day’s practice session; only able to post a 1:29.171 lap time that saw him finish in 15th place. Hoping for a turnaround in qualifying, Gary did so as he finished the session in 8th place only to find himself later disqualified from qualifying as the team had used an incorrect set of tyres on his car.

The penalty meant that Gary lined up on the last row of the grid drastically reducing his point-scoring chances.

Gary, never the type to give up, got off to a flyer in race two! Passing the stalled car of Martin, then going around the outside of both Mortara and Duval at turn three in a sensational overtake. All of this meant that when Gary came across the finishing line for the end of the first lap, he was already up to 13th place and on the hunt for more places.

Pitting on the fourth lap of the race, Gary rejoined in 12th place, on the back of Maxime Martin. Dispatching of Martin, Gary was now up to 11thplace and just outside of the points-paying positions.

As Rast retired from the race, promoting Gary to 10th, the Fitbit-sponsored driver then pulled off a great move on Augusto Farfus – going right round the outside of the Brazilian at turn one and slingshotting himself into 9th and on the hunt of the two Audi’s of Mattias Ekström and Nico Müller!

At the halfway stage of the race, Gary was now up to 7th position as Nico Nico Müller began to back Gary up. Making life incredibly hard for Paffett, Nico Müller was driving slow in the tight, twisty areas of the track and pulling away on the straights – forcing Gary to either stay behind or launch a reckless attack.

With Nico Müller clearly being used as Ekström’s wingman, the pack began to catch Ekström as Müller did all he could to help Ekström create a gap. With Ekström’s tyres almost completely dead, it was on the final lap of the race where Gary’s opportunity arose.

As Ekström went into turn one on a tight line, Müller followed him and Gary took to the outside of turn one – similar to his earlier move on Farfus. Coming out of turn one, Gary was right on the tail of Ekström and Ekström lifted off the throttle to allow Müller to get back alongside him.

Now side by side with Müller and stuck behind Ekström, Gary was in an Audi sandwich with nowhere to go as Ekström then brake tested Gary into turn three to allow Müller to gain track positions and simply tuck in behind Ekström once they were out of the corner.

Remaining behind the Audi pair over the finishing line, Gary came home in 6th place, only to later be promoted to 5th after race winner Marco Wittmann was disqualified.

Gary was delighted with his performance in race two but was far from impressed with Ekström’s lack of sportsmanship.

"That was a mega race for me from P17 on the grid. We didn't expect much after the disqualification, but we had a great strategy. I pushed when I needed to and did my utmost to get past Augusto. I pulled off a great pass on the outside of Turn 1 and went up into sixth place, which was mega. Towards the end, the two Audis of Ekström and Müller were struggling, and Müller was blocking me the whole race to help Eki. I overtook him on the outside of Turn 1, and then Eki just brake tested me out of the corner, and he did the same out of Turn 2 to let Nico back in. That's not fair and I'm pretty disappointed with that move."

Gary now holds 9th in the Drivers’ Championship with 75 points as the DTM moves onto the Nürburgring for the seventh round of the season, 8th– 10th September.