The 2012 DTM season has seen BMW return alongside series stalwarts Audi and Mercedes (Image | TAP)

The 2012 DTM series has seen new life breathed into the competition thanks to the return of BMW, which has been away from the sport for 20 years, and some incredibly close early racing. Through three rounds, six different drivers have featured on the podium, representing all three manufacturers, and BMW’s instant competitiveness has only further heightened the interest in the series.

Since 2006, the DTM has been bringing its high-powered machines to Brands Hatch in Kent, having twice visited Donington Park (2002 and 2003) previously before a two-year hiatus from racing in the UK. Although the majority of races have always been in Germany, including six of this season’s ten races, DTM likes to travel – most events are held around Europe but the series visited Shanghai as recently as 2010.

The DTM’s field, comprised of far more powerful cars than the more physical BTCC, always produces a big draw at Brands Hatch.

The event uses Brands’ shorter Indy circuit, which the Mercedes C-Coupes, Audi A5s and BMW M3s can lap in around 45 seconds. Factor in the 22-car field, and the excellent views of the circuit from anywhere on its perimeter thanks to Brands Hatch’s bowl-shaped landscape, and you can always see plenty of action.

Having never been to a DTM series round, I rounded up my father and brother at the weekend and we made our way down to Kent to watch the DTM race and the lengthy support calendar, featuring the prestigious Formula 3 Euro Series as well as the Volkswagen Scirocco R Cup, Euro Racecar-NASCAR Touring Series, and a variety of national championships organised by leading British motorsports organiser MotorSport Vision – which owns the Brands Hatch facility.

The DTM action didn’t disappoint, with hometown hero Gary Paffett – who cut his racing teeth on this very circuit – claiming his first ever DTM victory on these shores nine years after he entered the series. There were battles all the way down the field, and plenty of racing to entertain the  crowd, which on the Sunday alone was close to Brands’ 50,000 capacity.

London-born Paffett finally claimed his maiden victory in a British round of DTM, the 19th of his DTM career and already his second this season – meaning the Englishman tops the drivers’ standings after three rounds.

Having taken an old digital camera to the race, I’ve posted below a gallery of the best images from the weekend, all courtesy of either myself or my brother Matt. Either click on the links at the bottom of the page, or enjoy the slideshow here:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Once you’ve opened one picture, just press left or right to flick around the album. Enjoy!