Gary Paffett had a weekend to remember on home soil as the Mercedes-AMG driver extended his championship lead to 29 points after finishing in 6th and 2nd place at Brands Hatch.
6th place in the first race of the weekend saw him stretch out his championship lead further as his rivals struggled.
Gary then collected his fourth pole position of the season, and 16th of his DTM career, for race two.
Finishing race two in second place, Gary rounded off a successful weekend by securing his 45th DTM podium and seventh so far this season.
Gary now departs Brands Hatch with a 29 point lead at the top of the championship standings as Mercedes-AMG Motorsport continue to lead the drivers', team and constructors' championships.
Returning to the UK after a five year hiatus, the DTM rolled into Brands Hatch this past weekend for the sixth round of the season and unlike in previous years, where the gird ran on the shorter Indy circuit, this year they would need to master the full GP circuit for the first time.
Due to a curfew on noise levels during the week at the Kent track, the teams had to wait until Saturday to get their first running on the full 2.43-mile circuit. Two free practices started the day to catch up for lost running time from Friday and Gary spent the sessions learning the undulating Brands Hatch track.
Getting up to speed in the first session of the weekend, Gary finished the practice in 15th place before going almost two seconds quicker in the second session with a lap time of 1:18.964 to finish in 8th place.
Gary was then lucky to escape a moment in qualifying as he pushed the limits of his Mercedes-AMG C63. Getting out of shape at Paddock Hill bend, Gary found himself running wide onto the gravel and glanced the tyre wall with the side of his car. Fortunate to escape any serious damage, Gary returned to the pits before heading back out to record a lap time of 1:18.398 to qualify in 6th place for race one of the weekend.
“I'm pretty happy with my qualifying, I made a mistake on my first run and ran off the track. Luckily, I was able to get the car back to the pits with some damage and managed to qualify in P6. That was a really good result considering I went through the gravel and hit the tyre wall.”
Lining up from the outside of the third row, Gary got a great start off the line but Marco Wittmann came across to cover Gary off and Gary had to lift off the throttle to avoid the BMW in front. Losing momentum through the swooping Paddock Hill Bend, Timo Glock was able to get down the inside of Gary into turn two, demoting Gary to 7th place.
With a number of cars pitting on the opening lap, the strategy was going to be a huge factor in the outcome of the race with the drivers unknown to the levels of tyre wear around Brands Hatch. Gary pitted after several laps of the race and returned to the race up the road from Timo Glock who had passed Gary on the start and pitted on the opening lap.
With Gary running in 6th place once again, he began to catch Philipp Eng and got to within three-tenths of the BMW driver before settling for the 6th place and taking the chequered flag to collect eight championship points as championship rival Paul Di Resta failed to make the points.
“I’m happy to finish 6th, it’s a good result after my off in qualifying. In the race, I was with a bunch of cars at the front to start with, and I was pretty comfortable sitting there. As the race went on, though, they seemed to find more pace and I was struggling a bit. P6 was a decent result today which has brought me more championship points. We now have to carry on improving the car for Sunday."
Kicking off Sunday’s action with free practice, Gary finished the session in 16th place as temperatures dropped on Sunday morning but conditions returned to near-optimum for the day’s qualifying session at Brands.
An extremely strong qualifying form Gary saw him collect three points after a securing his fourth pole position of the 2018 season and his sixteenth of his DTM career! Gary led an dominant qualifying for Mercedes with the team finishing the session with four Mercedes-AMG Motorsport DTM drivers inside the top five.
In the race, Gary started from difficult Brands Hatch pole position, on the inside of the start-finish straight, and got beaten off the line by Paul Di Resta. With the two side-by-side heading around turn one and turn two, Gary eventually yielded the position to Di Resta on the run down to Graham Hill Bend.
Remaining with Di Resta for the duration of the race, Gary pushed him for the entire hour but couldn’t find a way back past on the tight Brands Hatch circuit and settled for second place and a 29 points championship lead.
"I'm satisfied with the way the weekend turned out. Paul had the better start today, and as everyone knows, it's very difficult to overtake here. Starting from pole seems to be a bit of a curse here, but to be honest, I just didn't get off the line very well. Paul managed to get around the outside in Turn 1, and I left him the space to do it. From there, I just tried to put pressure on him the whole race, which made it hard work for the tyres towards the end.”
“I think I was a bit quicker, because I managed to stay within one second for the whole race. I was sitting there, just waiting to see if he would make a mistake, but he was very consistent and eventually won. So, well done to him, and thanks to the whole team for their terrific work all through the weekend."
Gary now moves onto 177 points at the top of the championship standings to lead Paul Di Resta by 29 points as the series moves onto Italy and the series’ first-ever night race at Misano (24th - 26th August).