Gary Paffett closed the gap on championship leader Bruno Spengler with victory at Zandvoort, as Spengler suffered his worst result of the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters season so far.
For the third successive year Paffett won at the Netherlands circuit, and in doing so, closed in on Spengler at the top of the leader board.
Initially it looked like an Audi fightback was on the cards after a Mercedes-Benz domination so far in 2010.
Reigning champion Timo Scheider looked to have kick-started his season with pole position, with a time of 1:31.590 in the fourth phase of qualifying, and bettering second placed Paffett’s time of 1:32.286.
Spengler could only manage 7th fastest in the qualifying, and was eliminated in the third phase of the session.
As the race began Scheider stalled on the grid allowing a number of the field past off the line, including Paffett who moved into the race lead.
Scheider fell back to tenth but set about a sensational drive to pick off places through the 42-lap race as he recovered to take the final step of the podium.
Paffett seized the gift of first place with both hands, and set about controlling the race from there on to take the chequered flag for the third successive season at Zandvoort.
Paul di Resta claimed second, with Scheider third and Spengler in 7th.
Aside from Paffett’s run of victories, more instances of dÃ©jÃ vu were evident in the Netherlands.
Last year Scheider was disqualified from the results at Zandvoort after attending the post-race weighbridge check too-late, and this year the German is under investigation once again as the results remain provisional.
A mandatory identification bar code fitted to the tyres of all DTM cars, was missing from one of Scheider’s tyres after the race. This is not allowed under the regulations, and as such, and investigation will be conducted focusing on Scheider’s tyres before any results are finalised.
Speaking of his race victory, Mercedes’ Gary Paffett said “I just like this track. I got the maximum out of the car and driving here was great fun. I thank my team for a great job during the weekend”
“Like Bruno, I have won two races this year and I am ready to challenge him for the championship”, added Paffett.
Paul di Resta took the opportunity to speak of the closing championship standings, “A good race for me and for Mercedes-Benz. I came close to the lead, but could not manage to pass Gary. Well done to him on his race win. I scored eight points today and the fight for the championship is open again”.
Speaking before the announcement of the investigation regarding his tyres, Scheider took the time to publicly apologise for the stall at the start of the race, “My apologies for the mistake at the start! I clearly have to take responsibility for that. These are the little things that aren't working out as smoothly in 2010 as they did last year. After restarting the engine I had an incredibly good car to drive”.
The two-time DTM series champion’s recovery drive, and consistent pace throughout, showed that the Audi A4 has the pace to compete at the sharp end for the remainder of 2010.
“It was possible for me to advance from eleventh to third place. My thanks go to the guys who gave everything despite my poor start – strategically as well as at the pit stops. Third place wasn't a fortunate result but my first podium of the year. That was the right step for the forthcoming races of the season. But we've got to continue to work and mustn't make mistakes like this again”, added Scheider.
Pending the outcome of the investigation, the championship standings see Bruno Spengler in the Resta sits third on 33-points.
The next round of Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters sees the crews head to Brands Hatch during the first weekend of September.
With the two Brits fighting at the top of the standings, a partisan crowd will be on hand to lend their support, as Paul di Resta will be looking to replicate his dominant 2009 victory at the Kent circuit.