Gary Paffett secures pole for DTM race at blazing hot Norisring
By Berthold Bouman
Briton Gary Paffett (Mercedes Team HWA) took pole position for the fifth DTM race of the season on the Norisring in Germany. Paffett is currently leading the DTM Championship with 83 points, and is followed by Mattias Ekstrom (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline) who has 47 points, and Jamie Green (Mercedes Team HWA) is third with 44 points.
“Pole position for me, the 111th for Mercedes-Benz in the DTM and Jamie starting from P2 – you don’t get many better days than this,” said Paffett. Asked about his plans for tomorrow’s race he replied, “I’ve finished on the podium in all four races so far this year, and I’d love to continue that run with a third win of the season tomorrow.”
New asphalt at several parts of the classic street circuit, as the old layer gradually crumbled due to the high ambient temperatures on Friday, around 33 degrees Celsius, and a track temperature of over 53 degrees. Last night new patches of asphalt were laid down in the fast chicane ahead of the start-finish straight and other parts of the circuit, hopefully the repairs will hold during tomorrow’s 80 lap long race.
Biggest surprise in the first qualifying session was Timo Scheider (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline) who despite all his experience did not make it into the second session, he finished in a very disappointing 21st place. The only one slower than Scheider was Rahel Frey (Audi Sport Team Abt), who took 22nd and last place in the first session.
Also Robert Wickens (Mercedes Team Mucke Motorsport), Roberto Merhi (Mercedes Team Persson Motorsport), Susie Wolff (Mercedes Team Persson Motorsport) and Miguel Molina (Audi Sport Team Phoenix Racing) did not make it into the next session. Fastest in the first session was Paffett with a time of 1m01.679s.
During the second session Bruno Spengler (BMW Team Schnitzer) was in the danger zone, but the Canadian squeezed out a last-minute fast lap to secure a place in the third session, and took sixth place. Birthday-boy Ralf Schumacher (Mercedes Team HWA) also made it into the third session, but only just as he was 0.008s faster than the number 11, Mike Rockenfeller (Audi Sport Team Phoenix Racing). Fastest in the second session was Ekstrom with a time of 49.070s.
Again surprisingly, the experienced Rockenfeller didn’t make it into the third qualifying session, also Adrien Tambay (Audi Sport Team Abt), Filipe Albuquerque (Audi Sport Team Rosberg), David Coulthard (Mercedes Mucke Motorsport), Joey Hand (BMW Team RMG) and Dirk Werner (BMW Team Schnitzer) did not make it into the third session.
Another ten minutes of qualifying on the blazing hot circuit for the remaining ten drivers, again Ekstrom was leading the pack, followed by Augusto Farfus (BMW Team RBM) and Gary Paffett. Not the best of days for BMW at the Norisring, only Farfus was able to qualify for the final top four shoot-out.
Also not in the top four were Schumacher, Martin Tomczyk (BMW Team RMG), Spengler, Christian Vietoris (Mercedes Team HWA), Andy Priaulx (BMW Team RBM) and Italian Edoardo Mortara (Audi Sport Team Rosberg).
Paffett was first to go out for his flying lap during the final shoot-out, the Briton pushed hard and crossed the finish line after 49.139 seconds. Brazilian Farfus was next but locked up his wheels while braking for the hairpin which ruined his chances for the pole position, and set a time of 49.255s.
Green was faster than Paffett in the first two sectors but lost time in the last sector and finished second with a time of 49.171s. Last man who could take pole away from Paffett was Ekstrom, but the Swede couldn’t quite
cut it and was already one-tenth behind Paffett in the first sector and lost more time in the last two sectors and crossed the line with a time of 49.369s and took fourth place on tomorrow’s start grid.
Leaving from second spot on the grid tomorrow is Green, “The Norisring just seems to suit me and our DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé has been running really well. I performed strongly in all the qualifying sessions, and the front row is an excellent platform for the race. I think I’m all set up for another good result in tomorrow’s race.”
Farfus was very happy with his third place, “It’s my first time driving the BMW M3 DTM on a street circuit, so this third place feels more like pole position. We were always running at the front, bud didn’t quite have the pace of the Mercedes guys, so third was the best we could really hope for.”