Gary Paffett nursed his tires to the finish to take victory for Mercedes in the DTM race at Dijon, keeping his title hopes alive in a dramatic event where several Audis suffered punctures.
Paffett shadowed Audi's Mattias Ekstrom for the majority of the race, with the pair jumping the early frontrunners who were held up by a struggling Bruno Spengler (Mercedes).
While the lead pair cleared off at the front, there were signs of trouble for Audi as championship leader Timo Scheider blew a right-rear tire at the end of his first stint on lap 22, sending him to the pits. Oliver Jarvis and Tom Kristensen were the next drivers to suffer blowouts, and at the end of lap 46 Ekstrom dived in for a third stop with a puncture of his own. That handed Paffett a comfortable lead of more than 10 seconds over Paul di Resta, but the 2005 champion dropped his pace significantly in the closing stages to ensure his tires remained intact.
With four Mercedes drivers between Paffett and Scheider in sixth place, the Briton was relatively safe despite the field closing dramatically on him in the final three laps, and less than 10 seconds covered the top 14 finishers by the end.
The result leaves Scheider with a seven-point lead over Paffett heading to the season finale at Hockenheim in two weeks, while Ekstrom is now out of contention after only recovering to ninth following his extra stop.
Behind di Resta, Spengler took third to secure the first Mercedes podium sweep of the season. The Canadian had been ahead of his HWA teammate in the first half of the race, but lost out when the Scot followed Kristensen through at Turn 1 on lap 26.
Jamie Green was in the thick of the action all race in his 2008 Mercedes and came home fourth, just ahead of Ralf Schumacher, who had his best DTM race to date to take fifth.
Scheider had closed on the three Mercedes ahead of him in the final stint, but as his teammates fell by the wayside with tire troubles he backed off to bring the car home.
Behind Martin Tomczyk in seventh, there was chaos on the final lap. Alexandre Premat slammed into the side of eighth-placed Maro Engel at Turn 5, and as the pair ran wide they blocked Ekstrom, enabling Mathias Lauda to come through and take the final point.