Six from six for Paffett
Six from six for Paffett

Bromley’s Gary Paffett continued his run of points-scoring finishes after two top-ten finishes at the Hungaroring guided him to tied fifth in the championship.

Entering the weekend, the Mercedes team held the heaviest car after two successful opening rounds left them as the leading manufacturer. With the weight disadvantage accounting for around half a second, Mercedes were already on the back-foot before the weekend had already started.

Two tough free practices for Gary saw him end the sessions in 17th place, with a lot left to be desired as Mercedes struggled during the opening stages of the weekend.

Saturday

After finishing the first session of the day at the tail end of the order, Gary required a big performance in qualifying if he was to score a positive result in Budapest. A lap that was almost two seconds quicker than his best lap time of the weekend so far guided him to a 9th place start for race one in Budapest as he finished the session as the second fastest Mercedes.

As the lights went out for race one in Budapest, Gary got off to a good start and was in a battle with four other cars for seventh place. Taking the riskier, outside line, Gary swept round the outside and straight on to the tail of Loic Duval as the track again narrowed for turn two.

Avoiding any major dramas on the opening few laps, the race then had its first safety car after the damaged BMW of Maxime Martin pulled up on the side of the track. As the safety car came out, Di Resta, Glock and Spengler all took the gamble to pit early in return for track position and losing less time.

As the green flags waved for the restart of the race, another manic safety car restart saw Mueller, Farfus and Auer come together at turn two, promoting Gary up the order and into ninth place – straight on the wheels of DTM Champion, Marco Wittmann.

Pressurising the German, Gary then opted to come into the pits at the end of lap 13 and rejoined the race in 14th but eventually crossed the line in eighth place as the chequered flag dropped.

Despite the lack in overall pace, Gary still managed to come home in a top ten place and was further promoted to 7th after Jamie Green was excluded from the race.

“I’m pretty happy with the result. It was an up and down race. My start was good, and I felt quite comfortable in the field. I was just waiting for the pit stop when the safety car came out.”

“I didn’t get away particularly well after the restart and lost a couple of places. I then managed to stay out of trouble and gained a few places in Turn 2. The car was good during the race.”

“I didn’t have the pace of the Audis, but otherwise, I was quite happy with the car for the whole race. Obviously, the safety car period benefited the guys who decided to pit before. P8 is okay and I’m generally happy with the performance overall. I was just a bit unlucky with the safety car.”

Sunday

A top-ten finish to start Sunday saw the Thunderhead-sponsored driver finish free practice three in 8th and set himself up for another highly competitive qualifying session. Posting his quickest time of the weekend, Gary’s time of 1:35.284 guided him to 11th place start for race two in Budapest.

A strong start to race two saw Gary move up to tenth place coming out of turn one and fought hard to keep his position through the opening stages of lap one. With Saturday’s earliest pitstoppers finishing on the podium, many drivers opted for an early stop – with Maxime Martin and Mike Rockenfeller pitting as early as lap one.

Pitting on lap 8, a sluggish stop for Gary saw him rejoin the race track in 13th position on the new, cold tyres and was having to defend straight away. Managing to maintain his position and get his tyres up to racing temperature, Gary began catching Mike Rockenfeller and was pushing him lap upon lap.

With not much time left on the clock, at the start of lap 32, Gary saw his opportunity to snatch a place from Rockenfeller and dove around the outside at turn one. Clearly with more traction and pace, Gary looked like he was about to take the position before Rockenfeller, rather aggressively, collided with Paffett. Voicing his disapproval down the team radio, Gary kept his foot to the floor and took the inside line into turn two and took the position from Rockenfeller – who received a black and white flag for his driving standards.

After Wittmann and Auer fell before the chequered flag, Gary crossed the line in 9th position and continued his run of point scoring finishes.

“A tough race. I was always stuck in traffic. I didn’t lose too many positions at the start, and then I was following a train of cars around. We lost a couple of places in the pit stop, unfortunately.”

“I was in P11 most of the time at the back of a group of cars and following them quite comfortably. Towards the end, Rocky seemed to have some problems and I managed to pass him for P10.”

“We subsequently gained another place thanks to Wittmann’s retirement. P9 means another couple of points. It was not what we wanted really, but we couldn’t do more. It’s simply too difficult to overtake here.”

Although the pace was not there for Gary and Mercedes, the Fitbit-sponsored driver scored two more points finishes, making him one of two drivers to score points in every race this season.

This achievement now means that Gary is tied fifth in the Drivers’ Championship as the DTM moves back to Germany for round four at the Norisring.

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