Paffett: Title to be Career Climax

Gary Paffett believes securing the DTM championship would be the greatest achievement of his career so far

Paffett: Title to be Career Climax

The 24 year-old only has to finish in the top eight at this weekend's Hockenheim finale to become the first Briton to secure the title in the championship's history.

McLaren Autosport award winner Paffett won the German F3 title in 2002 before signing for Mercedes in DTM the following year, after his Formula 3000 season fell through early when his team collapsed.

Paffett has also won other championships in his career, including the 1999 British Formula Vauxhall Junior crown, but he reckons securing the DTM title would trump all his previous achievements.

"It would be the biggest disaster ever if I didn't win the title," Paffett told Autosport-Atlas. "It would mean so much and be the highlight of my career. If someone had told me at the start of my career you'd be winning the DTM in 2005 I wouldn't have believed them.

"Winning the Autosport award was a big deal because I got a drive in a McLaren but I also became the first Briton to win German F3. But as you go up the ladder in motorsport the drivers get better and better and titles become harder to win."

Paffett has a nine-point lead over Audi's Mattias Ekstrom thanks to a dominant performance in the last round in Istanbul. Reigning champion Ekstrom went into the Turkish round as championship leader, however, the Swede finished out of the points following a crash with Jamie Green.

"I feel very confident of winning the title," Paffett added. "We've done the hard work now. We've scored points in every round this season, all I have to do is do it once more. I've got to be consistent and do the same job again.

"The only situation where I would lose the title would be a crash or something, but when I have had problems in races, I have always scored points.

"They have run out of reasons to give me a drive-through penalty. I ran over the pitlane white line at Nurburgring and I finished third. When I jumped the start at Brno I finished fourth. When I qualified tenth at Spa and I got the drive-though [after an incident with Pierre Kaffer] I still finished eighth."

The only way for Ekstrom to take the title for the second consecutive year would be win this weekend, with Paffett failing to score. Paffett reckons that even if he is point-less for the first time this season, one of his Mercedes teammates will win the race to ensure Ekstrom cannot overtake him in the title race.

"Mercedes will win the race and there will be lots of people looking to end the season on a high," Paffett said. "So even if I don't win, I'm sure one of my Mercedes teammates will. Mika Hakkinen will want to win, and Bernd Schneider and Jamie Green will also be strong.

"If I concentrate I can do a good enough job. I just have to start off the weekend strongly and qualifying in the top ten and get off to the right start."

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