Gary Paffett Back in DTM

Gary Paffett, 2005 DTM-Champion with the DaimlerChrysler Bank AMG-Mercedes C-Class, will return to the DTM after a one-year break. The 25-year-old Englishman, who has been a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes test driver in Formula One for more than a year, will drive the Persson team’s 2006 AMG-Mercedes C-Class, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport announced today. The 2007 DTM incorporates ten races and will start at Hockenheim on 22 April.

In December 2006 the possibility of Gary’s DTM comeback first arose. However, at that time the four HWA factory cars had been already allocated to DTM record champion Bernd Schneider (42), double Formula One World Champion Mika Häkkinen (38), 2006 DTM runner-up Bruno Spengler (23) and Jamie Green (24), 2004 Formula 3 Euro Series Champion.

Within the last two years, five drivers with cars from the respective previous years have scored points on a total of 19 occasions: Bruno Spengler (three times) and Stefan Mücke (2) in 2005, Jean Alesi (6), Alexandros Margaritis (5), Stefan Mücke (2) and Daniel la Rosa (1) in 2006. When Gary made his debut in the 2003 DTM, he raced a 2002 model; his best result in that year was sixth place at Austria’s A1-Ring. With the DTM’s weight rules, three generations of race cars are able to achieve podium positions. Whilst the new cars in 2007 will have a basic weight of 1,070 kilograms, 2006 cars will weigh 1,060 kilograms and 2005 cars will race with a weight of 1,020 kilograms.

Gary Paffett, who is married and the father of two sons, has enjoyed a longterm relationship with Mercedes-Benz and McLaren. He was promoted by the Champions of the Future kart racing program for young talents, which had been launched by McLaren and Mercedes-Benz. In 1999, he won the “Young Driver of the Year" award, which had been established by McLaren, Autosport magazine and the British Racing Driver Club (BRDC).

Paffett had started his career in kart racing at the age of ten in 1991. In 1997, he won the Formula Vauxhall Junior Newcomers’ Championship and in the following year, clinched the Vauxhall Junior Championship title. In 1999, he won the Formula Vauxhall Championship. After a year in the British Formula 3 Championship, when he won the Scholarship class, he entered the German Formula 3 Championship, which he won in 2002. From 2003 until 2005, Gary competed in 30 DTM races and won nine out of them. Within this time, he started from pole position five times and posted the fastest race laps on six occasions.

Gary Paffett: "It's great to be back racing with Mercedes-Benz in DTM, a championship where I have always performed well. I am fully motivated to achieve the best possible results this season. I am also continuing my test driving role for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes where I will be contributing towards the best technical package for the World Championship campaigns of both Fernando and Lewis. I remain committed to finding a full time Formula One drive in the future. Meanwhile I am fully focused on the beginning of the DTM season which is my immediate priority as a professional racing driver."

Mercedes-Benz Motorsportchef Norbert Haug: “Gary Paffett wanted to race again in the DTM and of course we have been enthusiastic about this idea. Apart from this, it will remain Gary’s target to become a Formula One race driver. At Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, he will have the opportunity to build up his reputation. Gary is the 2005 DTM Champion and within motor racing he is considered a competent and capable Formula One driver who has moved up from the DTM. To have him in our driver line-up is an upgrade for our team and the entire DTM."

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