Gary Paffett suffered a setback in his DTM title hopes at Misano as an incident in race one, whilst running in the podium places, ended in an early retirement and a disappointing Sunday meant Gary failed to score points on a race weekend for the first time this year.
Gary headed to the first ever DTM night races looking to maintain his championship lead but the unknowns of a new circuit and new conditions meant that it was going to be a difficult task. Getting up to grips with the 4.226-kilometre circuit, Gary finished the first session of the weekend in 15th place on a dry Friday evening.
Wet weather arrived on Saturday for the first race day at Misano and, in adverse conditions, Gary set the pace in the afternoon’s practice session as he recorded a 1:46.071 lap time. Weather continued to worsen as the sun went down in Italy and qualifying was a difficult affair for all of the drivers.
Battling wet conditions, heavy traffic and low visibility, Gary managed to secure a 4th place starting position for the first race of the weekend with Mercedes-AMG looking very strong with all of their cars qualifying inside the top-ten.
Lining up from the second row of the grid, Gary got one of the best starts of his season, beating third-placed Rene Rast off the line and briefly getting his nose into the lead of the race before having to back out as he was on the tighter inside line. Tucking in behind Mortara and Di Resta, Gary was able to position his car perfectly for turn two and was able to cut underneath Mortara and take second place heading out of turn three.
With the track still slippery and fresh out of the pits on new tyres, Gary then came under pressure from Edo Mortara, with the Italian trying an audacious move down the inside of Gary but he ran wide and Gary was able to retake the place.
Gary then had a lock up into turn eight a lap later and ran wide. Rejoining the track, Gary made contact with Edo Mortara and this incident broke his steering and forced him to retire from second place.
"Conditions out there were tough today, and I ran wide briefly. I tried to get back on track as quickly as possible and then had a contact with Edo. Unfortunately, my steering got broken in the incident. That was obviously very disappointing for me."
Hoping to bounce back from a frustrating Saturday, Gary finished a dry morning’s practice in 15th place but the rain soon returned to Misano before qualifying. In a much tighter qualifying, Gary secured an 8th place start for race two as he finished the session as the third fastest Mercedes-AMG.
As the rain stopped shortly before the start, all but one of the cars on the grid opted for the wet weather tyres and at the start of the race, Gary had a frantic opening corners but managed to keep his nose out of trouble and keep his position.
A short way into the race distance, the track was drying quick and Gary, along with most of the field, completed his mandatory stop and changed for slick tyres. A mistake at the pitstop however cost Gary valuable time and he rejoined the race well down the order.
However, just as the pace of the dry tyre began to match the same as those on wets, the rain suddenly reappeared and Gary was forced into another pit stop to go back onto wets. The safety car was then brought out due to Lucas Auer crashing and the field was bunched up, providing Gary with an opportunity to regain some ground lost in the pitstop.
Unfortunately, Gary’s hopes of scoring points in Sunday’s race were ended as he was sent into a spin by Daniel Juncadella and eventually recovered to take the chequered flag in 14th.
Paul Di Resta's win on Saturday and sixth place in Sunday’s race means Gary now sits in 2nd in the championship standings and trails his Mercedes stablemate by nine points.
"That was such a disappointing race. I had actually been intending to score a lot of points today. The conditions were difficult, but as a team, we made too many wrong decisions, which has cost us dearly. We need to learn lessons from this and make sure we do better in the next few races."
After three races in other European countries, the DTM returns to Germany on the weekend of 7th - 9th September. That's when the legendary Nürburgring will be hosting Rounds 15 and 16 of the 2018 championship.