DTM Le Mans: Paul Di Resta Second and Two Points behind the Leader
Paul Di Resta finished the 10th round of the 2008 DTM at Le Mans in second place, reduced the gap to the overall leader Timo Scheider (Audi) who came home sixth today to two points and postponed the championship decision until the season finale on 26th October in Hockenheim.
After 41 laps in changeable and rainy conditions, Di Resta crossed the finish line 4.250sec behind winner Mattias Ekström (Audi). Gary Paffett (stern AMG Mercedes C-Class), who had started his 50th DTM race 16th on the grid drove his 2007 C-Class to a fourth place finish. Bernd Schneider (Genuine Parts AMG Mercedes C-Class) finished fifth after an exciting battle with Scheider in the closing stages. Due to the changeable weather conditions, Ekström, Di Resta, Schneider and Scheider had to make extra pit stops to change tyres, as did several other drivers.
Prior to the finale at Hockenheim on 26th October, the championship remains exciting: Paul Di Resta is second overall with 63 points; Scheider leads on 65 points. Ekström is third with 54 points but is out of contention for the title fight.
In the team rankings, Mercedes-Benz Bank/AMG Mercedes with Paul Di Resta and Bruno Spengler lead with 96 points, eight points ahead of Audi Sport Team Abt.
Bruno Spengler (Mercedes-Benz Bank AMG C-Class) ended up seventh; Jamie Green (Salzgitter AMG Mercedes C-Class) came home 10th. Susie Stoddart (TV Spielfilm AMG Mercedes C-Class) finished in 12th position whilst Maro Engel (JungeSterne AMG Mercedes C-Class) was 14th followed by Mathias Lauda (Pixum AMG Mercedes C-Class); he and Susie completed their 30th DTM races respectively.
Ralf Schumacher (Trilux AMG Mercedes C-Class) retired on the opening lap after he had been pushed into a spin by Katherine Legge (Audi) and got stuck in the gravel.
A total of 18,000 spectators attended the 10th round of the 2008 DTM at Le Mans during the weekend.
The start: Jamie Green started second on the grid with Paul Di Resta in fourth, Bernd Schneider in sixth and Bruno Spengler in seventh positions behind him. In light rain, Paul Di Resta was fourth after the opening lap, Spengler moved up to fifth and Schneider was seventh. Green dropped to 11th place. Ralf Schumacher was hit by Katherine Legge (Audi), spun into the gravel and retired.
Lap 2: Paul Di Resta overtook Alexandre Premat and improved to third place. Jamie Green pitted for slick tyres. Lap 3: Paul Di Resta was fourth again, followed by Bernd Schneider and Bruno Spengler. Lap 4: Bernd Schneider was fourth ahead of Paul Di Resta; the Scotsman came into the pits one lap later and changed to slicks. Lap 6: Bruno Spengler came in for dry tyres. Lap 10: Paul Di Resta fought with Alexandre Premat (Audi) for 10th place. Lap 12: Bernd Schneider was now second, Gary Paffett fifth, Jamie Green seventh and Paul Di Resta eighth. Lap 13: After Mathias Lauda's pit stop, the fuel can got stuck in his car. He pitted again and lost the can at the pit lane entry. Lap 14: First regular pit stop of Jamie Green. Lap 17: Bernd Schneider took the lead after Mattias Ekström's first pit stop. Lap 22: Paul Di Resta came in for his first mandatory pitstop. Lap 23: Bernd Schneider pitted for the first time and resumed in second place. Lap 25: Second regular stop by Jamie Green. Lap 27: Bruno Spengler came in for his second stop, followed by Bernd Schneider one lap later. Lap 29: Paul Di Resta pitted for rain tyres. Lap 30: All drivers had completed their mandatory pit stops. Bernd Schneider was third; Jamie Green drove in seventh place ahead of Gary Paffett and Paul Di Resta. Lap 31: Bernd Schneider came in for an additional pit stop and changed to wet tyres, and so did Audi drivers Timo Scheider and Mattias Ekström. Afterwards, Paul Di Resta was ahead of his championship rival Scheider. Lap 35: Paul Di Resta overtook Prémat on the outside of the front straight and improved to second place. One lap later, Gary Paffett overtook too and was now third; Bernd Schneider followed in sixth place behind Scheider. Lap 40: Bernd Schneider overtook Scheider after an exciting battle and was now fifth. Finish (lap 41): Paul Di Resta came home second, Gary Paffett was fourth and Bernd Schneider fifth.
Paul Di Resta (2008 AMG Mercedes C-Class), second: "It was not the right decision to start with rain tyres, but in conditions like today, it is difficult to make the right choice. It's super that I finished second despite my extra pit stop and that I am only two points behind Timo Scheider – we knew that it would rain in the final third and my team had the perfect timing for the change; that was crucial. My speed was good despite the handicap weight which we now got rid of for the final race. I look forward to Hockenheim and I want to win in the great finale and thus clinch the championship title."
Gary Paffett (2007 stern AMG Mercedes C-Class), fourth: "To end up fourth after starting 16th is a nice result. I was even third in between and almost made it to the podium, but in the end Prémat was a little bit faster. I thank my team for the perfect strategy today."
Bernd Schneider (2008 Genuine Parts AMG Mercedes C-Class), fifth: "In the beginning, slicks were the right choice, although it was quite tricky. However, in the end I had to make an additional stop, because the rain was too hard for dry tyres. The battle with the overall leader Timo Scheider was fun, and I am happy that I was able to overtake him."
Bruno Spengler (2008 Mercedes-Benz Bank AMG C-Class), seventh: "A complicated race for drivers and teams. In addition to the tricky conditions, I had a coming together with Oliver Jarvis and as a consequence, my car was damaged at the left rear. In these circumstances, seventh place is not too bad." Jamie Green (2008 Salzgitter AMG Mercedes C-Class), 10th: "A difficult race. At the start on the damp track, I lost nine positions and came into the pits immediately to change tyres. When it began to rain harder towards the end, I needed another extra tyre change and that was my race."
Susie Stoddart (2007 TV-Spielfilm AMG Mercedes C-Class), 12th: "I was on rain tyres for the first 10 laps and lost a lot of time. After my first pit stop I was faster, but I was not able to improve. I am happy for Paul – in Hockenheim he has a good chance to win the title."
Maro Engel (2007 JungeSterne AMG Mercedes C-Class), 14th: "I pitted five times – it was just not our day today. I thank my team anyway, because they changed a faulty gearbox sensor after the warm-up right in time for the race."
Mathias Lauda (2007 Pixum AMG Mercedes C-Class), 15th: "I gained four or five positions at the start; however, I lost them again at the chicane because I was the only driver around who did not use the short cut. Due to the fuel can which got stuck in my car I had to make an extra pit stop and that destroyed my race."
Ralf Schumacher (2007 Trilux AMG Mercedes C-Class), retired in the gravel after being pushed into a spin: "I made a good start and avoided the skirmish in the chicane. Then I was pushed into a spin by Katherine Legge, got stuck in the gravel and retired. What a shame, it could have been a good race today."
Norbert Haug, Vice President Mercedes-Benz Motorsport: "This was an inspiring DTM race one of the very best I have ever seen - these 41 laps of Le Mans were probably more exciting than many of the traditional 24 hours of Le Mans. Our decision for Paul, Bruno and Jamie to start on wet tyres was wrong. However, the HWA team under Gerhard Ungar and Hans-Jürgen Mattheis did not give up, and so did our drivers, particularly Paul Di Resta. We knew it would rain harder in the final third of the race, and we timed Paul's stop for the change to wet tyres perfectly, which was crucial and brought Paul back in contention. He was the man of the race. After his first pit stop he was 38 seconds down, but then he drove a sensational race like in his own league. For some stages he was two seconds per lap faster than the leaders. He won one of the last four races - the one in Barcelona two weeks ago – and finished second three times, thus reducing the gap to the top to two points. In the team rankings, we are eight points ahead. Remarkable: Gary's performance who drove the 2007 C-Class from 16th on the grid to fourth place, and Bernd, who eventually defeated Scheider in a tough but very fair battle. We all hope now for a great finale in Hockenheim and now we want to clinch the title there with Paul – the momentum of the second half of the season speaks for Paul."