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DTM Driver History #1 Gary Paffett Part 1

Welcome to DTM Driver History. Join me as I cover DTM drivers’ racing past. Today I’m are covering Gary Paffett

Early Career
Born in Bromley, London in 1981 Gary Paffett’s motorsport career can be traced back as far as 1993 when he contested in the British Cadets karting championship coming third overall. In 1994 and 1995 he competed in the British Junior TKM Championship coming second in the title race in his first year and winning the next year. He followed this success in 1996 winning the McLaren Mercedes Karting Champion of the Future award and came second in the British Junior ICA Championship.

Single seater racing was in the sights of Paffett he competed in and won the Formula Vauxhall Junior Winter Series in 1997 followed by an absolute domination of the full Formula Vauxhall Junior B Class season in 1998 winning 13 out of 13 races. This led to him being promoted to the A Class in 1999 which he won the championship in with four race wins. Paffett then won the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award the icing on the cake following a fantastic season.

In 2000 he entered the British F3 scholarship class (a category for older F3 machines) and won 12 out of 14 races. Highlights being fourth overall in Donington Race 1 and battling through damage and a tonne of lost time after an accident to win his class at Thruxton.

2001 and Paffett was near certain that he had a drive with the capable Jaguar Racing alongside future V8 Supercars champion James Courtney in British F3 until to his disappointment the seat was taken from under his nose by Andre Lotterer. It appeared that Paffett would be forced to join a weaker team in British F3 only to turn his back on his native series and move to racing in German F3 with Team Rosberg. Following his appointment Paffet said: “I’m very, very pleased, I was struggling to get a top championship drive in England. The Rosberg team is very well put together and it should go well with the new Renault engines.”

German F3 2001
Gary Paffett qualified in fifth for his first race in German F3 at Hockenheim. The race started in wet conditions and Paffett made a fantastic start jumping from fifth to second and was all over the back of polesitter and race leader Frank Diefenbacher for the first few laps until the German pulled away towards the end of the race.

After the Hockenheim race: “Because of the rain, I started like I was pulling away from a set of traffic lights in my road car,” quipped Paffett. “In the first three or four laps it was quite easy to stay with Diefenbacher, in fact I think I was slightly quicker. We had a dry set-up and new wets, though, and I think they just got too hot and I started to slide around. After he pulled a gap I just concentrated on not letting anyone catch up with me. It’s a great start to the season, and a good answer for all those people who said I was wrong to come to Germany to race.”

Race two at Hockenheim did not go so well for Paffett while challenging for fourth Paffett locked up and hit the tyre barriers at the Sachskurve as Diefenbacher won again. At Round 3 Paffett started in 16th at the Nurburgring and was involved in a remarkable incident with Zsolt Baumgartner. The two banged wheels sending Paffett up into the air only for the British driver to stay on the track and overtake Baumgartner on the next corner (I want footage of this SO BAD). Paffett finished the race in eighth with Pierre Kaffer winning the race. At the second race at the Nurburgring Paffett suffered from damage after a collision while battling for eighth he dropped down as low as fourteenth but when a last lap move in sheer desperation paid off he salvaged a point coming home in 10th. Stefan Mucke won the race

Round 5 at Oschersleben went exceedingly well for Paffett as he won his first ever race in German F3 and with doing so became the first British driver to take victory in the series. Starting third he marginally avoided a first lap incident to remain in third behind Kaffer in first and Toshihiro Kaneishi in second. Kaffer though made an error losing control of his car. Both Kaneishi and Paffett made it through into first and second. Paffett made no clear attempt to overtake Kaneishi instead using pressure tactics to force the Japanese driver into a mistake and that he did with on the 16th lap out of 22 Kaneishi spun his car giftin Paffett the victory. Paffett on the overtake: “If you get too close, you lose a bit of downforce and it’s quite difficult, so I was just trying to keep up as much pressure as I could and it worked in the end, because he went off. Then there was a big gap and it was just a case of not pushing too hard.”

Race 2 at Oschersleben, round 6 of the German F3 series and it proved to be a different race for Paffett. He made a great getaway from second to slot into the lead only to have his engine fail six laps in after he had built a comfortable cushion. Pierre Kaffer was there to take advantage of the incident and win the race. Round 7 at the Sachsenring and Paffett starts all the way down in 13th. He then picked his way through the field rising up to fourth place only for an idiotic move by Matteo Grassoto putting him out of the race. On the main straight Grassoto was gaining on Paffett only to run straight into the back of him on the straight putting the two of them out. Meanwhile in race two Paffett was eliminated in a first corner pile up which involved nine cars and gave the extremely lucky Kaffer who started sixth an insanely large lead at turn two after avoiding the carnage.

Round 9 at the Norisring and Paffett came fourth after a crazy rain affected race at the street circuit. Torrential downpour affected the race later on that was eventually red flagged for a huge pile up and Paffett rose from ninth to finish fifth and it looked like he would have come higher up the order if not for the red flag. Winner Kaffer was disqualified for having an illegal floorboard this promoted Paffett up to fourth and handed Diefenbacher the race win. Race 2 at Norisring was won by Kaneishi as Paffett came third. Kaneishi took advantage of reckless driving from Stefan Mucke who sending Kaffer into a spin and ending his own race after banging wheels with Diefenbacher with the latter continuing despite the damage. Paffett also benefited from the incidents as he was promoted to second only to lose that place to Kaffer as the British driver stuggled with brake bias.

Round 11 and once again the German F3 circus came to Hockenheim. Joao Paula De Oliveira won the race with a lights to flag victory as Gary Paffett did not finish the race. He was running in third when his ignition system failed, he came back into the pits and got back onto the track again only to fall foul to the Sachskurve for the second time this season. Round 12 was a thriller at the Hockenheimring. Kousuke Matsuura and race 1 winner De Oliveira fought it out in an amazing slipstreaming duel with the lead changing hands multiple times. Matsuura won the race by a very slim margin. Meanwhile Paffett had another shocker falling victim to a collision with Bjorn Wirdheim.

Round 13 at Eurospeedway Lausitz and Markus Winkelhock victory with Paffett coming home in fifth. Winkelhock took the lead at the start of the race and pulled out a big lead. However towards the tail end of the race Winkelhock spun two laps in a row which led to Diefenbacher catching him and after a near overtake and a near miss Winkelhock won by the fine margin of 0.7 seconds. Round 14 was very dull with Diefenbacher absolutely storming away from the field as Paffett finished in eighth after dropping down to 11th and fighting hard for the position.

Round 15 and German F3 returned to the Nurburgring. Bjorn Wirdheim converted his pole position into a win as Paffett suffered from unbearable understeer and finished well out of the top 10. In race 2 Kaffer held off a charging Winkelhock while he made multiple attempts at overtaking as Paffett finished 15th after a terrible qualifying.

Round 17 at the A-1 Ring and Kaneishi wins with Paffett fourth. Kaneishi lost second place at the start but was gifted the lead after 1st placed Winkelhock and second placed De Oliveira came together putting Winkelhock out of contention. Gary Paffett seized the opportunity to come fourth after overtaking Bjorn Wirdheim in the dying moments of the race. At race 2 Wirdheim won as Paffett stormed up from eighth to finish fourth. Wirdheim avoided the trouble behind him and despite two safety car periods eased to the victory.

Round 19 at Hockenheim and the penultimate race of the season is won by Winkelhock. Gary Paffett on pole sliced and diced with Mucke as the two constantly swapped places and it looked like Mucke got the better of him on the first lap. Paffett settled behind Mucke for three laps before overtaking him at the Senna Chicane. Winkelhock after tripping over his own teammate while lapping him overtook Mucke for second and began to carve into the lead of Paffett and passed him on the final lap at the Ostkurve. The twentieth and last race of the season was a bit of a disappointment as a potentially heart-stopping finale as Kaneishi and Diefenbacher were fighting for the title. However Kaneishi struggled throughout the race as Diefenbacher demolished the Japanese driver while Gary Paffett won himself a podium.

Final German F3 2001 Standings
1 Diefenbacher, 187
2 Kaneishi, 180
3 Mucke, 178
4 Kaffer, 156
5 Winkelhock, 141
6 Paffett, 120

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