12th September 2017
Gary Paffett could only manage to pick up a single point at the Nürburgring, after poor luck cost the Mercedes-AMG DTM driver any chance of a podium.
Gary headed to the Nürburgring after an impressive showing at Zandvoort, where the Thunderhead-sponsored driver picked up points in both of the weekend’s races. This included a 5th place finish in Sunday’s race and Gary occupied 9th in the Drivers’ Championship heading back to Germany.
In typical Nürburgring fashion, free practice took place in extremely wet conditions and Gary fulfilled his reputation as a master of the wet. Three fastest laps in a row saw Gary look in a class of his own as he spent the majority of the session at the top of the timesheets. Gary’s confidence in the wet was rewarded as he finished the first session of the weekend as the fastest man with a 1:36.959 lap time.
Saturday morning saw similar conditions to Friday’s practice and Gary again continued to look strong in the wet, finishing second to Paul Di Resta by three-tenths. With Gary carrying success-weight from Zandvoort, wet conditions helped neutralise the added weight but unfortunately the skies cleared for qualifying and the track began to dry.
As qualifying for race one got underway, Gary was the first driver out on track with wet weather tyres attached to his Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM but conditions weren’t too far away from slicks. Soon after the first lap times were on the board and the water dispersed, all of the drivers came into the pits to trade their wets for slicks. With the track drying with every passing moment, it was all about who could be last out on track when the flag dropped and unfortunately for Gary, he could only manage a 1:27.842 lap time to secure 13th place.
As the drivers lined up for race one at the Nürburgring, the skies darkened and the heavens opened with the drivers sat on the grid. A quick switch of tyres on the grid was followed by two formation laps to clear any standing water and soon enough action was underway in Germany.
Getting a great start, Gary carried a lot of speed into turn one and took to the outside of the corner, fighting his way into the top-ten. Battling for position and grip through the opening lap, Gary came under pressure from two BMWs and by the time he crossed the line for the end of lap one, he had fallen back to 12th.
Having struggled for grip, Gary began to get back to his familiar pace and soon enough he had caught up with Mike Rockenfeller. Going deep into turn one, Gary stayed on the outside of the Audi to get his Mercedes-AMG down the inside at turn two to take the position.
Now catching Bruno Spengler, Gary was right on his tail through the Mercedes-Arena and coming out of turn four got great traction, allowing him to get past the BMW driver before the cut through.
As the track began to dry, the 34-year old was just outside of the top-ten when Rast and Engel came together on the twelfth lap, allowing Gary to breeze past the pair and move himself into 9th place as he continued his progress.
Catching up to the BMW of Marco Wittmann, and the pack in front, Gary came into the pits on lap seventeen and a quick stop from his pit crew allowed Gary to return to the track ahead of Wittmann.
With only twenty minutes remaining disaster struck for the drivers who had pitted for slicks as the rain returned. Gary and the majority of the field were left with the option to stay out on their slicks or pit for a second time. Gary opted to remain on his slick tyres in the Eifel rain and fought tremendously hard to hold onto 10th place until the chequered flag.
“Congratulations to all of my team-mates. They all drove a brilliant race. Mine was none too good, unfortunately. We had just really bad luck. We pitted early for slicks, which was the right call, but then it rained again, destroying my race. We got one point in the end but could have won, so I'm really disappointed."
Forgetting about his disappointing Saturday, Gary was back on the pace in free practice 3 as he finished in 2nd place in the sunshine, just 0.093 seconds adrift of fastest man, Lucas Auer.
Conditions remained dry for qualifying and an extremely tight session saw nine-tenths separate the top-fifteen places. Securing 8th place for race two, Gary put himself in a good position to pick up points again at the Nürburgring.
Another great start from Gary in race two saw him get down the inside of Timo Glock but coming through the Mercedes-Arena, he was pushed off the track by Augusto Farfus and fell back down the order.
Opting for an early stop, Gary came into the pits on the fourth lap and came out just ahead of the drivers who had pitted on the first lap. As Gary got his tyres up to temperature he was quickly on the tail of Augusto Farfus and as Tom Blomqvist left the pits there was a three-way battle for the lead of the stoppers.
As Farfus got past Blomqvist, Gary tried to do the same heading into turn one but slight contact between the pair meant Gary backed out and switched to the other side of Blomqvist and took the position. However, Gary did not escape unscathed as he was soon reporting handling issues.
Struggling with the handling issues, Blomqvist soon caught Gary and for the second time in the Mercedes-Arena, the pair duelled, this time with Blomqvist taking the position from Gary.
As the late stoppers of Ekstrom and Green came through with little defence, Gary focused on his own race and soon caught Blomqvist and a pack of BMWs. With less than two minutes on the clock, Gary and Blomqvist battled again, trading positions but Gary eventually made the move stick and was hot on the tail of Farfus.
With under a minute on the clock, Gary was catching Farfus heading up the hill into the chicane and took to the inside of the #15. Farfus, however, closed the door with a move that Gary was far from pleased with. Having to taking measures to avoid his BMW competitor, Gary was on the backfoot, allowing Blomqvist to get alongside him and the pair sailed down the pit straight to start the final lap side by side.
With Martin just behind, Gary kept his position through the Mercedes-Arena but heading back up the hill into the chichane, Martin took to the outside with an overly optimistic move. Coming out of the chicane, Martin tried to get alongside Gary but subsequently spun the Englishman, demoting him down to 14th place at the chequered flag.
"That was another frustrating race. I made a really good start and gained a few places. Augusto then pushed me off in Turn 3, so I lost some positions. After the pit stop, Tom Blomqvist just drove into my car and somehow damaged the right rear wheel, so it handled pretty badly subsequently. Towards the end of the race, I caught a bunch of cars with Timo Glock, who was struggling. I tried to get past, but all the guys in their BMWs were driving into me. It was just really annoying."
From the Eifel, drivers and teams will head to Styria in Austria for the penultimate race weekend of the 2017 DTM season. Races 15 and 16 will take place at Spielberg, 22nd - 24th September.
#2 Gary Paffett | DTM Round Seven Nurburgring
FP1: 1st (1:36.959)
FP2: 2nd (1:36.237, +0.302)
Q1: 13th (1:27.842, +1.874)
FP3: 2nd (1:21.351, +0.093)
Q2: 8th (1:21.331, +0.395)