Paffett Wins Incident-Packed Race

Gary Paffett scored a sensational victory in an incident-packed DTM race at the Norisring on Sunday after overcoming some bad luck with the Safety Car and having to charge through the field

Paffett Wins Incident-Packed Race

The Mercedes-Benz driver stormed past pole position man Tom Kristensen at the start and instantly showed his pace as he began to open up a clear lead at the front over the pursuing Jean Alesi, before Kristensen grabbed second back on lap four

But Paffett's efforts proved all in vain on lap six when the Safety Car was called out at exactly the wrong moment after Mercedes-Benz teammates Jamie Green and Mika Hakkinen had collided at the final corner and pushed Mattias Ekstrom into a spin.

The leaders had already gone past the pits by the time the Safety Car was called out and it was the cars further down the field, led by Opel's Marcel Fassler and Ekstrom, who were able to dive in for the first of their mandatory two stops.

The leaders wisely then chose to stay out, hoping an opportunity would come later to not lose too much time in the pits - and their chance came on lap 29 after Rinaldo Capello swiped the rear of his car off after spinning backwards into the wall at the chicane.

With the Safety Car coming out again the entire field pitted, with Paffett leading from Kristensen. But with third and fourth placed Fassler and Ekstrom able to make their seconds stop, the win already appeared to have slipped from the grasp of the pre-race favourites.

It all went wrong for Fassler at that point, whose car stopped during his pit-stop, and Paffett opted to make his second stop a lap later - resuming down in 10th place and knowing full well that he needed to put on a serious charge if he was going to close in on Ekstrom in the title chase.

Paffett soon made his intentions clear as he moved up to seventh after the restart on lap 38 and he grabbed two more spots from teammates Bernd Schneider and Bruno Spengler on lap 40.

That amazingly left Paffett right behind Ekstrom and the title rivals were soon locked in a major battle - with Paffett finally finding a way past at the first hairpin on lap 44.

The Briton then closed on Audi's Christian Abt and passed him on lap 49 - before deciding to maintain his pace knowing full well that leader Kristensen, who was five seconds up the road, needed to make another stop.

But as Abt and Ekstrom got locked in a fight both together and with the pursuing Schneider and Spengler, Kristensen started to slow - most probably with the intention of slowing Paffett's pace to try and allow Ekstrom to close the gap.

But Paffett backed off to stay out of trouble and when Kristensen made his stop on lap 60 he grabbed the lead and there was no looking back.

Behind him Abt held onto second, while Ekstrom eventually took third place despite some close attention from his rivals.

Schneider had got past him for third on lap 58 but in a repeat of the Green-Hakkinen incident, Spengler tried to demote Ekstrom further but ended up crashing into Schneider. And then, on the final lap, Opel's Manuel Reuter tried to grab third spot with a brave move down the inside at the hairpin - only to collide with Ekstrom. Thankfully Ekstrom was able to continue and, when Reuter was penalised for the incident and dropped to ninth, it left the Swede to take third.

Reuter's penalty meant Allan McNish, who had got caught up in a collision at the first corner, took fourth place ahead of Martin Tomczyk and Heinz-Harald Frentzen.

The result leaves Paffett at the head of the title chase on 44 points, three clear of Ekstrom, with Kristensen in third place with 28 points.

Pos Driver Make Time 1. Gary Paffett AMG-Mercedes C-Klasse 1h 05:58.262 2. Christian Abt Audi A4 DTM + 3.627 3. Mattias Ekstrom Audi A4 DTM + 6.269 4. Allan McNish Audi A4 DTM + 13.251 5. Martin Tomczyk Audi A4 DTM + 13.615 6. H.H. Frentzen Opel Vectra GTS V8 + 14.538 7. Tom Kristensen Audi A4 DTM + 21.917 8. Pierre Kaffer Audi A4 DTM + 23.310 9. Manuel Reuter Opel Vectra GTS V8 + 34.250 10. Bernd Schneider AMG-Mercedes C-Klasse + 56.012 11. A.Margaritis AMG-Mercedes C-Klasse + 1 lap 12. Laurent Aiello Opel Vectra GTS V8 + 11 laps 13. Bruno Spengler AMG-Mercedes C-Klasse + 13 laps 14. Stefan Mucke AMG-Mercedes C-Klasse + 33 laps 15. Marcel Fassler Opel Vectra GTS V8 + 42 laps 16. Rinaldo Capello Audi A4 DTM + 43 laps 17. Jean Alesi MG-Mercedes C-Klasse + 49 laps 18. Frank Stippler Audi A4 DTM + 64 laps 19. Jamie Green AMG-Mercedes C-Klasse + 66 laps 20. Mika Hakkinen AMG-Mercedes C-Klasse + 67 laps 
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