Gary Paffett (THOMAS SABO Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) won the 2012 DTM season opener at Hockenheim from sixth place on the grid with a 4.7- second lead on Jamie Green (Mercedes AMG C-Coupé).Paffett and Green secured the 100th one-two victory for Mercedes-Benz in the DTM since 1988.
Paffett’s victory was the first success in the new DTM era in the three-way battle between the three premium brands Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz and the first victory for the new DTM Mercedes AMG C Coupé, the successor to the AMG Mercedes C-Class, which is the most successful vehicle in the history of the DTM with 85 victories in 159 races.
Jamie Green set the fastest lap with a time of 1:34.901 minutes – the sixth time he has done so at Hockenheim.
Gary Paffett (THOMAS SABO Mercedes AMG C-Coupé), Winner:
“What a fantastic start to the new DTM era. Many thanks to the team for their hard work – my THOMAS SABO Mercedes AMG C-Coupé was tuned perfectly. After a difficult season in 2011, I am pleased to have found the way back to the podium top spot. I’ve always believed in the team and my speed and that’s now paid off. The scrap with Jamie was really exciting and always very fair, which is exactly how racing should be, simply terrific!”
Jamie Green (Mercedes AMG C-Coupé), Second:
“Second place on the podium – what a great way to start the 2012 season! The setup of my Mercedes AMG C-Coupé was perfect for today’s race, so a big ‘thank you’ to my team. I got off to a great start and was able to overtake Mattias Ekström early on to take the lead. The contest with Gary was exciting and always very fair. His first pit stop was even faster than mine, so he came out of the pit lane ahead of me. Even so, I’m well satisfied with my second place and am delighted with the one-two win for Mercedes-Benz in the first race of the season.”
The new Audi A5 DTM driven by Mattias Ekström started from the pole position and finished in third place after 40 laps.
Mattias Ekström started from the pole position in his Red Bull Audi A5 DTM at the Hockenheimring and immediately took the lead, which he kept until lap five before making a braking mistake in turn two, dropping behind Jamie Green and shortly afterward behind Gary Paffett too. From then on the Swede from Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline concentrated on safeguarding third place which, as in Formula 1, is rewarded with 15 points this year.
“When you start from the pole position third place is certainly not your dream result,” said Mattias Ekström. “But our rival was simply better today; we’ve got to accept that. But not to worry: we’ll come back! It was very warm today and we didn’t have the optimum set-up for these conditions.”
BMW is back in the DTM – and was immediately in the thick of things in a turbulent opening race of the 2012 season at the Hockenheimring. Andy Priaulx of BMW Team RBM was the only one of the six BMW drivers to complete the 40 laps without any notable incidents.
The momentous occasion for BMW was witnessed by Members of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Dr.-Ing. Herbert Diess (Development), Dr.-Ing. Klaus Draeger (Purchasing and Supplier Network) and Ian Robertson (Sales and Marketing BMW, Sales Channels BMW Group).
Andy Priaulx crossed the line in sixth place in his Crowne Plaza Hotels BMW M3 DTM to score eight points. The three-time World Touring Car Champion finished 28.4 seconds behind race winner Gary Paffett. Starting the race from third place on the grid, Dirk Werner (DE, E-POSTBRIEF BMW M3 DTM) was hit by Mercedes driver Ralf Schumacher (DE) very early in the race, and dropped to the back of the field. Bruno Spengler (CA, BMW Bank M3 DTM), who was directly behind Schumacher at the time, could do nothing to avoid colliding with the former Formula One driver, and subsequently had to retire from the race.
In all the turmoil, reigning DTM champion Martin Tomczyk (DE) was forced off the track and suffered damage to his BMW M Performance Parts M3 DTM. As a result, Tomczyk’s first race of the new DTM era also came to a premature end just a few laps into the action. Joey Hand (US, SAMSUNG BMW M3 DTM) was hit by another competitor and spun in the hairpin, losing time and dropping positions. He eventually crossed the line in 13th. Augusto Farfus (BR, Castrol EDGE BMW M3 DTM) finished 15th, while Werner brought his car home in 17th.
Former BMW DTM drivers Roberto Ravaglia (IT), Eric van de Poele (BE), Harald Grohs (DE) and Steve Soper (GB) were in Hockenheim to watch BMW’s first DTM race for 20 years and, despite the results not going its way, BMW will take a lot of positives from the event. Over the course of the race weekend, 142,000 fans watched the first meeting of the three German premium automobile manufacturers in the DTM. In Saturday’s qualifying, four of the six BMW drivers made it into the top ten.
“On the whole, I am very happy with our DTM comeback. Nobody really knew what the balance of power would be at the start of the new DTM era. The unexpectedly strong performance in qualifying on Sunday, and the good sixth place achieved by an in-form Andy in Sunday’s race are just reward for the hard work put in by our entire team. A huge compliment and thank you to all the BMW teams and everyone at BMW Motorsport. We have taken the first step – and we will continue to pursue our path. It is good news for the fans that the three manufacturers are at a similar level. We will have to wait and see how we fare at the other circuits on the calendar. We are well aware of the huge challenge we face in such a fiercely competitive series as the DTM. Our competitors have many more years of experience than we do. We want to overcome that advantage as soon as possible.” said Jens Marquardt (BMW Motorsport Director).