René Rast claimed the penultimate race victory of the 2018 DTM Series at Hockenheim.
Audi team-mate Robin Frijns was second with Timo Glock in third.
Rast, enjoyed a tense battle with Paffett which the German claimed the upper hand of, but the Mercedes driver is once again leading the standings.
Marco Wittmann was forced to start the formation lap from the pits, following his issues in practice and qualifying.
A bold move by Paffett meant the Briton took the lead of the race on the opening lap from his team-mate Lucas Auer, whilst René Rast was passed by Augusto Farfus and was in fourth.
Paul di Resta managed to make ground up on the opening lap, after a difficult qualifying session to be just behind Rast in fifth.
Rast, knowing it was necessary for him to score big points began attacking Farfus and got the move done on the Brazilian.
Di Resta tried to follow Rast through but the BMW cut him off.
Now on the charge, Rast swiftly got ahead of Auer for second place.
Auer found himself dropping down the field, and headed straight to the pits to retire due to an issue with the accelerator pedal.
Whilst this was going on, di Resta was overtaken by Frijns and Glock and was down in sixth.
Frijns was forced to concede a place back to di Resta after forcing him off the track, but this also meant giving up places to Glock and Farfus.
After his issues, Wittmann was making up positions throughout the field and had got himself up to thirteenth.
Having been close for a number of laps, di Resta seized the advantage and passed Farfus for fourth place.
Farfus was vulnerable and found himself next passed by Frijns.
Although he would have been next to challenge Farfus, Nico Müller dived into the pitlane with Joel Eriksson following him in.
The following lap, Rast was the first of the championship challengers, and the front runners to come into the pits.
Paffett came in from the lead, the next lap coming out just ahead of Rast but the German was unable to take advantage of Paffett being on colder tyres to pass the Briton straight away.
Rast looked to get a move done into the hairpin but Paffett came back at him, but Rast found a way through.
As this was going on di Resta also came in for his pitstop and was engaged in a battle with Glock and Müller.
Edoardo Mortara, yet to pit found himself caught by Rast and Paffett, and did not put up a fight against the pair.
Meanwhile, Frijns led the race from Philipp Eng, Wittmann and Mike Rockenfeller with all four of them yet to pit.
Loïc Duval was on a charge and overtook di Resta for what became fifth place after the front runners had pitted.
Things were getting close between Rast and Paffett, with the Briton nudging the rear of the Audi.
On lap 23, Paffett passed Rast into the hairpin with the pair bumping and bashing each other as they both tried to claim the upper hand.
The following lap, it was Rast who made a move into the hairpin to retake the place from Paffett.
A safety car period was deployed after Farfus’ door came off his car, to allow for it to be recovered.
The Brazilian headed to the pits for another change of tyres and another door to be fitted.
However, Farfus ultimately was forced to retire.
Paffett did not react well to Rast’s restart and was dropped by the German.
Having got himself into seventh, Wittmann was forced to pull over at the side of the track and retire from the race with damage.
Glock overtook Dani Juncadella at the restart, and managed to move himself into third and was challenging Paffett for second.
Frijns and di Resta were going wheel to wheel, whilst Glock put himself ahead of Paffett for second.
Having managed to pass di Resta, Frijns was mounting an attack on team-mate Duval and passed the Frenchman to pressurise Paffett.
Frijns overtook Paffett for third into the hairpin, aided by Paffett getting boxed in by the rear of Glock.
The next lap, Glock too fell foul to the charging Frijns with the Dutchman on course for his best finish in the DTM.
Further back, di Resta was being swamped by Audis and was over taken by Rockenfeller and Müller to finish down in eighth.
Rast held on from the rapid Frijns, who claimed the best result of his DTM career with second.
Glock came back from his grid penalty to finish in third.
Paffett finished fourth and as result retakes the championship heading into the final race.
The Briton holds a six point advantage over di Resta, with Rast a further nine points behind.
Duval led an Audi trio, with Rockenfeller and Müller just behind him.
Eighth place for di Resta, as he concedes the championship lead.
The top ten was completed by Bruno Spengler and Mortara.
Wittmann, Farfus and Auer were the only retirements.
Practice on the last day of the 2018 season gets underway at 9.00 local time.
2018 DTM Series Results: Hockenheim II – Race One
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