Gary Paffett has opened his 2012 DTM championship season in style, leading an HWA Mercedes 1-2 – and an all-British one at that – to victory in the opening race in front of a packed Hockenheim crowd.
The McLaren reserve driver powered through from sixth on the grid to be third in the opening laps, and then vaulted into the lead after his first pit stop to claim an assured win ahead of team-mate and compatriot Jamie Green.
Pole-sitter Mattias Ekström converted his front-row start into an early lead, only to make a mistake at Turn 1 shortly after to hand the lead to Green at the following corner. The opportunistic Paffett made his way by the Swede just three corners later.
Green and Paffett ran line astern until the first round of pit stops, and when Paffett emerged from his stop, their pair ran side-by-side for several corners before he took an effective lead from Green.
After losing his lead, Ekström was unable to keep pace with the leading pair and steadily fell away, although did enough to keep clear of any threat to his third place.
The Swede finished ahead of Christian Vietoris, who was one of the biggest movers in the race, finishing fourth to ensure four HWA Mercedes’ would finish in the top four places. The young German climbed up through the order from the lower reaches of the grid with an impressive drive, passing Mike Rockenfeller with five laps to go.
With Rockenfeller finishing fifth, three-time World Touring Car Champion Andy Priaulx finished sixth and the only BMW in the points on the carmaker’s return to the DTM series. The Guernseyman charged hard in the closing stages, finishing right under Rockenfeller’s rear wing at the end of the race.
Seventh place went to Ralf Schumacher, who found himself in the wars on Sunday. The former F1 driver was caught up in an incident at the hairpin with Dirk Werner and Bruno Spengler early in the race, which led to the latter’s retirement.
Stewards deemed Schumacher at fault in the accident and forced him to serve a drive-through penalty, but he charged hard all day to claim seventh spot, just over three seconds ahead of fellow ex-F1 veteran David Coulthard.
The last points positions were claimed by the Audi pairing of Miguel Molina and Filipe Albuquerque.
2012 DTM Race of Hockenheim – Final Standings (40 laps):
|DRIVER||TEAM / ENTRY||LAPS||RESULT|
|1.||Gary Paffett||HWA Team Mercedes||40||1:04:37.615|
|2.||Jamie Green||HWA Team Mercedes||40||+ 4.709|
|3.||Mattias Ekström||Abt Sportsline Audi||40||+ 19.434|
|4.||Christian Vietoris||HWA Team Mercedes||40||+ 25.774|
|5.||Mike Rockenfeller||Phoenix Racing Audi||40||+ 27.834|
|6.||Andy Priaulx||Team RBM BMW||40||+ 28.435|
|7.||Ralf Schumacher||HWA Team Mercedes||40||+ 39.948|
|8.||David Coulthard||Mücke Motorsport Mercedes||40||+ 43.306|
|9.||Miguel Molina||Phoenix Racing Audi||40||+ 46.079|
|10.||Filipe Albuquerque||Team Rosberg Audi||40||+ 46.614|
|11.||Edoardo Mortara||Team Rosberg Audi||40||+ 47.253|
|12.||Susie Wolff||Persson Motorsport Mercedes||40||+ 51.971|
|13.||Joey Hand||Team RMG BMW||40||+ 1:08.628|
|14.||Robert Wickens||Mücke Motorsport Mercedes||40||+ 1:09.027|
|15.||Augusto Farfus Jr||Team RBM BMW||40||+ 1:09.556|
|16.||Rahel Frey||Audi Sport Team Abt||40||+ 1:16.123|
|17.||Dirk Werner||Team Schnitzer BMW||39||1 lap behind|
|DNF.||Robert Merhi||Persson Motorsport Mercedes||38||Damage|
|DNF.||Timo Scheider||Abt Sportsline Audi||13||Damage|
|DNF.||Martin Tomczyk||Team RMG BMW||4||Accident|
|DNF.||Adrien Tambay||Audi Sport Team Abt||3||Collision|
|DNF.||Bruno Spengler||Team Schnitzer BMW||3||Collision|