Paffett Cruises to Win at Lausitzring

Gary Paffett claimed an easy win from pole, to finish ahead of Audi's Tom Kristensen and Mercedes teammate Mika Hakkinen

Paffett Cruises to Win at Lausitzring

Paffett led the grid away from the lights with a fast start, while Hakkinen was quicker away than second placed Jamie Green, with Mattias Ekstrom slotting in ahead the rest of the pack.

Behind them, Martin Tomczyk and Alex Margaritis suffered tyre damage from separate incidents, bringing both into the pits after a lap, while on lap five Jean Alesi got by a slow looking Bernd Schneider at turn one, who came in for his first stop immediately afterwards.

On lap nine a fast charging Tom Kristensen looked inside Bruno Spengler at turn three, managing to outdrag the Canadian and claim fifth place at turn four. Just two laps later Ekstrom, who had been climbing all over the back of Green for a number of laps, pushed the Briton into the infield gravel trap trying to take third position, earning the Swede a drive-through penalty as well as some panel damage to the front of his car.

Alesi came in for his first stop from seventh but was in too much of a hurry to leave - he took off with the fuel tank (and mechanic) still attached, with the mechanic dropping off the car immediately and the fuel tank rolling over the car and into gravel a few turns later.

Kristensen powered by Ekstrom across the line on lap 15, with the Swede clearly struggling with a damaged car; the move meant the running order was now Paffett 2.8 seconds ahead of Hakkinen, with Kristensen pulling away from Ekstrom behind them.

One lap later the leaders began their stops: Paffett came in, with Kristensen and Ekstrom (for his drive-through penalty) following two laps later; Hakkinen and Ekstrom (for his first tyre stop) followed in one lap afterwards.

Hakkinen ran into some trouble, when he tried to leave the pits with the jacks still down due to a technical problem. Subsequently, he spun on the spot and lost a few seconds to Kristensen in the move. Ekstrom was in for the third time in as many laps on lap 20, followed by Heinz-Harald Frentzen who was slowed by right rear tyre problem.

Two laps later Hakkinen was all over Pierre Kaffer, who had yet to stop; the difference in tyres was clear as the Finn made short work of Kaffer and ran inside him for fourth place on track at turn four.

Further back frustrations were beginning to show as Allan McNish couldn't find a way past Marcel Fassler; after the inevitable contact both men came into the pits, McNish was a flat left front and terminal damage to his Audi but Fassler was able to keep going after changing his tyres.

On lap 26 Manuel Reuter lost his car and finished in the gravel; at the same time Alesi was continuing his eventful run of pit stops by coming out almost into side of Martin Tomczyk, who fell behind the Frenchman in the run up to turn four.

A few laps later Frank Stippler decided to add to the mayhem, coming out of the pits just ahead of the pair. The trio bumped their way around the lap, with Tomczyk coming out on top at turn one with parts flying off his car.

Paffett was calmly leading ahead of the bedlam, pitting on lap 32 and continuing on his way. Hakkinen and Kristensen were in shortly after before continuing their hard fight for second position, while Ekstrom lost his front right bodywork at turn one, adding to the debris at the corner and sending the marshalls scurrying out on track to pick up the pieces when they had a gap in the traffic.

Alesi, now clear of Tomczyk through a pitstop, was pushing hard on a clean track, and quickly made short work of a slowing Schneider at turn one, but his troubled race meant that there was to be no repeat of his round one joy.

Hakkinen spent the final ten laps running behind Kristensen but was unable to find a way by, while up front Paffett led the pair home comfortably, finishing 5.6 seconds to the good, with a disintegrating Ekstrom 30 seconds back in fourth, just ahead of Kaffer.

An unlucky Spengler lost his car on the last lap, finishing his race in the gravel from which Alesi politely retrieved his fuel tank, while back in the pits Hakkinen and Kristensen were hugging each other with joy for their massive battle in the race.

"The car was perfect," winner Paffett noted after the race. "The team was perfect, and it was a great race for us. Mika was pushing me hard but the team was telling me the times and I could easily run at the same pace as him to control the race."

DTM Race Result - Lausitzring

Pos Driver                 Make            Time
 1. Gary Paffett           AMG-Mercedes C  1:03:21.071
 2. Tom Kristensen         Audi A4 DTM     1:03:25.543 +    4.472
 3. Mika Hakkinen          AMG-Mercedes C  1:03:27.146 +    6.075
 4. Mattias Ekstrom        Audi A4 DTM     1:03:55.927 +   34.856
 5. Pierre Kaffer          Audi A4 DTM     1:03:56.355 +   35.284
 6. Frank Stippler         Audi A4 DTM     1:04:03.370 +   42.299
 7. Jean Alesi             AMG-Mercedes C  1:04:06.790 +   45.719
 8. Stefan Mucke           AMG-Mercedes C  1:04:12.683 +   51.612
 9. Christian Abt          Audi A4 DTM     1:04:12.710 +   51.639
10. Laurent Aiello         Opel Vectra     1:04:15.447 +   54.376
11. Rinaldo Capello        Audi A4 DTM     1:04:19.501 +   58.430
12. Martin Tomczyk         Audi A4 DTM     1:04:21.238 + 1:00.167
13. Marcel Fassler         Opel Vectra     1:04:31.871 + 1:10.800
14. Heinz-Harald Frentzen  Opel Vectra     1:04:40.302 + 1:19.231
15. Bruno Spengler         AMG-Mercedes C  1:02:41.036 +    1 lap
16. Manuel Reuter          Opel Vectra     1:04:09.967 +   3 laps
17. Bernd Schneider        AMG-Mercedes C    52:33.452 +   9 laps
18. Allan McNish           Audi A4 DTM       31:11.131 +  25 laps
19. Alexandros Margaritis  AMG-Mercedes C    28:52.376 +  28 laps
20. Jamie Green            AMG-Mercedes C    14:32.521 +  37 laps
Paffett on Pole; Mercedes Dominate
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