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Mercedes expect Zandvoort ‘classic’

Mercedes-Benz head to the Netherlands this weekend for the seventh round of the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters at Zandvoort, a circuit which is notoriously unpredictable.

Norbert Haug, the Vice President of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, states that the competition in the 2012 DTM is now so close that at the notoriously close Zandvoort circuit everything needs to be working well for a strong performance.

“Zandvoort places extremely high demands on both cars and drivers and now ranks as a DTM classic,” explained Haug. “The three-way tussle for top honours between the manufacturers and their drivers is more exciting than ever, since half of the field are podium contenders at Zandvoort, but just some minor error or a setup that proves to be unsuitable in qualifying can ruin your chance of success.”

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Mercedes’ lead driver, Brit Gary Paffett, had his championship lead reduced to 20 points last time out at the Nürburgring after he could only manage a sixth-placed finish. However Paffett has high hopes for the Zandvoort circuit in the sand dunes, having tasted the victory champagne three times in the past at the Dutch circuit.

“Zandvoort is one of my favourite tracks on the DTM calendar,” said Paffett. “I’ve already won three times there and really love racing at the dune circuit. The track offers a good mix of fast and slow turns – this variety gives me a lot of pleasure as a driver, and so I’m really looking forward to climbing back into the cockpit just one week after the Nürburgring. Hopefully, I can build on my previous good results at this track and achieve another top-three finish after two races without a podium.”

Mercedes other title contender, Brit Jamie Green, has a best finish of fourth recorded at Zandvoort, which he achieved last year. Despite never having taken a podium at the coastal circuit – Green has been competing in the DTM since 2005 – he is still looking forward to the event this weekend.

“We posted a decent result at the Nürburgring – fourth place – despite a tough weekend, plus, we showed in the race that our car is quick,” said Green. “I’m now really looking forward to Zandvoort. The dune circuit is quite challenging and makes very different demands on the vehicle as compared to last weekend at the Nürburgring. The fast sections of track really suit me and the car, and, as has so often been the case this season, I expect a close fight for the top positions.”

Now in his third DTM season, David Coulthard scored his best ever result in the series with a fifth-placed finish at the Norisring in June. However the Scot finished 20th and last at the Nürburgring last weekend and hopes to make up for the disappointing weekend quickly with a strong showing in the Netherlands this weekend.

“My memories of Zandvoort go back many years: I took a win at the first Formula 3 Masters race around the dune circuit more than 20 years ago,” said Coulthard. “I’ve experienced a lot in my career since then and achieved many things. You have to be particularly careful near the beach where strong winds often blow sand onto both uphill and downhill sections, making the asphalt quite slippery. In Zandvoort, I will try to build on my good results from the Norisring after making a disappointing start to the second half of the season at the Nürburgring.”

The first practice session for the DTM at Zandvoort takes place at 13:20 Berlin time on Friday 24th August 2012 (12:20 GMT).

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