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Rockenfeller takes lights-to-flag DTM victory at Brands Hatch

Sunday, May 19 2013

Audi's Mike Rockenfeller completed a lights-to-flag victory in today's DTM race at Brands Hatch, heading the BMW of reigning champion Bruno Spengler. Meanwhile Britain's Gary Paffet drove a storming race, utilising a clever strategy to take third. However a subsequent penalty dropped him to sixth, with Robert Wickens taking the final podium place.

Rockenfeller and Augusto Farfus both made good starts and the Audi led the field on lap one as he worked on building up a lead over the Brazilian's BMW. Meanwhile Gary Paffett, who had started on standard tyres, elected to pit at the end of lap three for options, along with Mattias Ekström and Adrien Tambay. Marco Werner and Christian Veitoris also stopped on the next lap in an attempt to haul themselves up the field.

Paffett's strategy saw him posting fast laps whilst Jamie Green was making progress the traditional way, taking a place from Glock, before making his own visit to the pitlane on lap 13. Andy Priaulx made his top 12 laps later but was tapped into a spin by Tambay on his outlap, losing valuable time. Meanwhile as the race settled down, the top 11 had yet to stop, with Paffett first of the pitters and on Glock's tail. The Briton then passed the former F1 driver on the straight at just under one third distance. Also driving an impressive early stint was Martin Tomczyk from the back of the grid and already up to eighth.

Farfus was the first of the leaders to stop on lap 32 and Bruno Spengler also stopped soon after. He rejoined ahead of Paffett and as the Englishman attempted a DRS pass, he was chopped by the reigning champion on the run to Druids. Tomczyk was also in the wars and he elected to make his second stop after spinning during a failed overtaking manoeuvre.

Paffett made his second stop before half distance, having hauled himself way up into the top ten. By contrast, at precisely midway through the race, Edoardo Mortara made his first stop from the lead, followed by Miguel Molina.

As two-thirds distance approached, Spengler and Scheider made their second stops, followed by race leader Rockenfeller. Just as Farfus' chance to attack approached he slowed before stopping on the pit straight. In anticipation of a safety car, several drivers pitted, leaving Spengler as BMW's main defence against Audi, whilst Paffett rejoiced in third place, but on the slower tyre compared to the train of cars following.

As the race headed towards its conclusion, Rockenfeller was able to hold the chasing BMW of Spengler at a safe distance, whilst Paffett kept a close eye on his mirrors. Mercedes colleague Robert Wickens was trying to keep the BMWs of Marco Wittmann and Joey Hand at bay in an effort to salvage the three-pointed-star's weekend.

Paffett managed to open the gap to his pursuers and completed a podium consisting of all three DTM manufacturers, with Audi putting one over BMW after their domination of the early running. Wickens held on for third place from Wittmann and Hand, whilst Ekstrom drove to seventh from Christian Vietoris, Scheider and Pascal Wehrlein. Green took 15th place, whilst Priaulx's earlier problems cost him dearly, with 19th at the flag.

However Paffett's joy was short lived. He was judged not to have slowed enough for a yellow flag and was docked five seconds, dropping him to sixth place.

After taking his second ever DTM victory, Rockenfeller said: "It was a really nice race, the kind of race you dream of. I was a bit surprised about the option tyre and when we put on the standard tyre the car was fantastic. It's a great day, a great feeling to come here and have such a pace. We can be really happy. The track is challenging, a lot of elevation changes, it's nice."

DTM Race
1, Mike Rockenfeller, Audi Sport Team Phoenix, 98 Laps
2, Bruno Spengler, BMW Team Schnitzer, 7.6s
3, Robert Wickens, Mercedes AMG DTM-Team, +24.3s
4, Marco Wittmann, BMW Team MTEK, +24.9s
5, Joey Hand, BMW Team RBM, +26.0s
6, Gary Paffett, Mercedes AMG DTM-Team, +27.0s
7, Mattias Ekström, Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline, +36.5s
8, Christian Vietoris, Mercedes AMG DTM-Team, +38.9s
9, Timo Scheider, Audi Sport Team Abt, +39.5s
10, Pascal Wehrlein, Mercedes AMG DTM-Team, +40.2s

Next week, Brands Hatch hosts the Masters Festival with F1 races and demonsatrations. Tickets are available from £18, with free entry for children aged 12 and under. For more information call 0843 453 9000 or click here.