Gary Paffett cruises to home DTM win for Mercedes at Brands Hatch
|By Jamie O'Leary||Sunday, May 20th 2012, 13:25 GMT|
Gary Paffett continued his near-perfect start to the 2012 DTM season with a commanding victory in front of his home crowd at Brands Hatch.
From pole position, the HWA Mercedes driver steadily built his lead up to almost three seconds over Bruno Spengler's fast-starting Schnitzer BMW by half-distance and eventually won by nearly twice that amount to increase his championship lead to 25 points over the Canadian.
Spengler was on a charge in the second half of the race, and spurred on by the combination of slight contact for Paffett when he was lapping Adrien Tambay's Audi and a quicker pitstop than the home hero, reduced his deficit to a little over 1s with 20 laps left.
As hard as he pushed though, Spengler could not get any closer, and instead had his mirrors full of Mike Rockenfeller's Phoenix Audi by the finish after damaging his splitter and losing pace. The German could not make his speed count and finished behind the BMW to take what was still his best finish of the year.
Last year's Brands Hatch winner Martin Tomczyk was the chief overtaker in the opening few laps. The defending series champion passed Christian Vietoris for seventh at Clearways on the opening lap after the HWA driver fluffed his start from the outside of the front row, and he then repeated the move on Tambay's Abt Audi a lap later, although not without first pushing the Frenchman wide mid-corner.
He latched on to the tail of Filipe Albuquerque's Audi but could not pass until the second round of pitstops, when the Rosberg pit crew had a problem tightening his right-front wheel. That lost the Portuguese driver four seconds and the same number of places.
Other than Tomczyk, who took his best finish of the year in fourth, the chief beneficiaries of Albuquerque's problem were Abt driver Mattias Ekstrom and Vietoris, who came home fifth and sixth.
Next up was Miguel Molina, who came out ninth after his final stop, but passed Albuquerque and Mortara in separate moves on the run up to Paddock during the final 20 laps.
The Rosberg cars both appeared to suffer from braking issues late on as both cars ran wide at Druids while under pressure from Jamie Green and ceded position to the HWA Mercedes driver.
Green finished eighth, ahead of Mortara and Albuquerque. Augusto Farfus looked set to be in the hunt as well, but spent too long bottled up behind Tambay and could not make enough of an inroad into his deficit to the Rosberg cars in the final stint.
Andy Priaulx was an early retiree after sustaining damage to his RBM BMW and making an unscheduled tyre stop, while Timo Scheider pulled out at half distance with an engine problem.
Results - 97 laps: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Gary Paffett HWA Mercedes 1h10m01.585s 2. Bruno Spengler Schnitzer BMW + 5.065s 3. Mike Rockenfeller Phoenix Audi + 5.579s 4. Martin Tomczyk RMG BMW + 5.997s 5. Mattias Ekstrom Abt Audi + 22.416s 6. Christian Vietoris HWA Mercedes + 23.195s 7. Miguel Molina Phoenix Audi + 23.689s 8. Jamie Green HWA Mercedes + 24.284s 9. Edoardo Mortara Rosberg Audi + 25.779s 10. Filipe Albuquerque Rosberg Audi + 29.582s 11. Augusto Farfus RBM BMW + 30.302s 12. Adrien Tambay Abt Audi + 33.015s 13. Joey Hand RMG BMW + 35.977s 14. Robert Wickens Mucke Mercedes + 36.340s 15. David Coulthard Mucke Mercedes + 1 lap 16. Dirk Werner Schnitzer BMW + 1 lap 17. Roberto Merhi Persson Mercedes + 1 lap 18. Rahel Frey Abt Audi + 1 lap 19. Ralf Schumacher HWA Mercedes + 1 lap 20. Susie Wolff Persson Mercedes + 1 lap Retirements: Timo Scheider Abt Audi 55 laps Andy Priaulx RBM BMW 12 laps