Paffett Retakes Lead with Win

Mercedes driver Gary Paffett retook the lead of the DTM points standing with his fourth win of the year in the German-based touring car series at Zandvoort in the Netherlands, beating title rival Mattias Ekstrom of Audi after a tense early battle

Paffett Retakes Lead with Win

Paffett's hopes of victory started badly, however, as he dropped a place from fourth on the grid while Ekstrom rocketed up to third from fifth.

Pole man Bernd Schneider pulled into an immediate early lead over Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Ekstrom, Marcel Fassler (Opel) and Paffett. The latter got past Fassler on lap two and closed up on Ekstrom, but this was a race that would be decided by strategy.

Schneider and Paffett opted for an early stop, while Frentzen and Ekstrom stayed out for a long first stint. Having rejoined in the pack both Schneider and Paffett got stuck behind the year-old Audi of Rinaldo Capello, who refused to move aside.

Matters came to a head when Schneider appeared to punt Capello off at Tarzan bend, although the German claimed Capello had braked "50 meters too early." Schneider would get a drive-though penalty, while Paffett was able to set about turning over the deficit to Ekstrom.

When Ekstrom finally pitted he rejoined 2.2secs behind Paffett, who took the lead of the race when Frentzen pitted for the first time. Although Ekstrom was close to Paffett, he elected to pit to try and regain track position over him, but he tripped over the year-old Audi of Christian Abt, who failed to let him through at the chicane.

That delay, and the loss of a front flick-up, was enough to consign him to second place, as Paffett romped home by over 12secs. Paffett now reverses the one-point deficit pre-Zandvoort to a one-point lead.

Frentzen finished third, but Opel's day was soured slightly when Tom Kristensen (Audi) pulled a great move on Fassler to grab fourth at the penultimate corner.

CLASSIFIED:

Pos  Driver           Car                    Time
 1.  Gary Paffett     AMG-Mercedes C-Klasse  1h 1:59.421
 2.  Mattias Ekstrom  Audi A4 DTM            +    12.015
 3.  H.H. Frentzen    Opel Vectra GTS V8     +    16.732
 4.  Tom Kristensen   Audi A4 DTM            +    20.042
 5.  Marcel Fassler   Opel Vectra GTS V8     +    20.873
 6.  Martin Tomczyk   Audi A4 DTM            +    21.120
 7.  Jamie Green      AMG-Mercedes C-Klasse  +    23.436
 8.  Bernd Schneider  AMG-Mercedes C-Klasse  +    30.921
 9.  Bruno Spengler   AMG-Mercedes C-Klasse  +    36.488
10.  Christian Abt    Audi A4 DTM            +    37.719
11.  Pierre Kaffer    Audi A4 DTM            +    39.113
12.  Mika Hakkinen    AMG-Mercedes C-Klasse  +    40.123
13.  A. Margaritis    AMG-Mercedes C-Klasse  +    48.372
14.  Laurent Aiello   Opel Vectra GTS V8     +    51.535
15.  Allan McNish     Audi A4 DTM            +    6 laps

NOT CLASSIFIED/RETIREMENTS:

     Driver           Car                    On Lap
     Manuel Reuter    Opel Vectra GTS V8       27
     Stefan Mucke     AMG-Mercedes C-Klasse    18
     Rinaldo Capello  Audi A4 DTM              18
     Frank Stippler   Audi A4 DTM              13
     Jean Alesi       AMG-Mercedes C-Klasse     2

Fastest lap: Garry Paffett, 1:34.785 on lap 9
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