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DTM: Gary Paffett wins Mercedes dominated first race in Zandvoort.

Updated: Sep 26, 2018

Text and images: Rick Kiewiet

Where the English football team couldn’t bring sportive success, it had to come from somewhere else for the English. And it did: Gary Paffett won the first race through the Dutch Dunes in Zandvoort in a race that was dominated by Mercedes. The first non-Mercedes was found on 5th place, which ‘lokalmatador’ Robin Frijns secured in his Audi RS5.

Paffett lay the foundation for his 23rd career win (in 174 races) already in quali where he snatched Pole Position before Pascal Wehrlein by 6 hundreds of a second. Wehrlein however was not amused, saying Paffett blocked him in his fast lap.

In the opening stages of the race, where Paffett took the lead from the start before Wehrlein, DiResta and Auer, pressure mostly came from his teammates. However, the hardest fight this race remarkably was put up by Audi driver, and reigning champion, René Rast, who was only ninth on the grid. Trying to make his pitstop as late as possible, the Audi-driver showed incredible pace with no traffic ahead as all the others made their pitstop quite early.

Building a considerable gap, Rast was working towards a lead that could’ve granted him at least a very good finish, maybe even his first win of the season. But all was lost when team-colleague Nico Müller buried the nose of his RS5 deep in the tire barrier of the quick second turn, causing a safety car period. Rast still had to make his pitstop while the Mercedes quartet behind him, and the rest of the field, already did. After his pitstop, Rast rejoined in last position.

This left Paffett on top of the field again with only a short distance to go. He took the well-deserved win with a 1.4 second lead over Scotsman Paul DiResta. Austrian Lucas Auer took the final podium spot.

Paffett, already the leader in the championship, extended his lead by scoring 28 points today (in DTM, 3 points are awarded for Pole Position) to a total of 127. DiResta comes second with 106.

Local hero Robin Frijns drove a strong race starting from 7th and finishing 5th. After a difficult start of the season, the rookie Frijns, having considerable mileage under his belt on the Dutch track, was the best Audi and best non-Mercedes in the race.

BMW had a bad day at Zandvoort: best placed Bavarian car was the bright yellow M4 of Timo Glock in 6th place. He was followed by three of his team-colleagues: Wittmann, Farfus and Eriksson completing the top 10. The BMWs did not play a role in the fight for the top spots.

Words and pictures from Rick Kiewiet


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