Triple champion René Rast: “The DTM has always been my home”

With his third title triumph in just four years, René Rast wrote DTM history at the beginning of November. The Minden-born driver, who lives in Bregenz (Austria), won 24 races in record time with the Audi RS 5 DTM, took 20 pole positions, set the fastest lap 14 times and collected 1,113 points. With 77 starts, this corresponds to an average of more than 14 points per race.

In the DTM’s eternal list of best drivers, René Rast is now tied with racing legend Klaus Ludwig in second place for championship titles. In this interview, the German explains how he spent the days after winning his third title, which goals he has for Formula E, why he remains loyal to Audi and which DTM record he still wants to break.

How does this sound: three-time DTM champion and on a par with a legend like Klaus Ludwig?

Of course, it is a very special feeling to be among the three best DTM drivers in history. I would never have dreamed of that myself. I only joined the DTM four years ago. To already be among the best DTM drivers in history is incredible. That hasn’t really sunk in for me yet either. You will probably only really notice this when you are a bit older and look back on what you have done in the past.

There are many people who are involved in winning a DTM title. Who do you especially want to thank?

To start with, of course, my father, my mother, my sister – everyone in my family who used to travel with me to the races. The people who have gone through all of this and supported me. Especially my father, who was always travelling with his motorhome. In 2005, my manager (Dennis Rostek) took over. He has stood by my side until now and has paved the way. Then of course my own little family with my girlfriend Diana, who also stands by my side when things are not going so well. Team Rosberg, which has contributed the most to the success of the last years. The mechanics and my engineers have worked day and night for four years to achieve this. And last, but not least, Audi Sport. They have given me the chance to make my dream of racing in the DTM come true after all and have provided me with awesome cars over the last four years.

How did you spend the days after winning the title?

Relatively quietly. I only spent one day at Bilster Berg and had appointments with partners there. Otherwise, I was at home and enjoyed the time with my family. I tried to relax for a few days. It was a very busy year after all. You have to work through all the things that have been left behind at home.

How many congratulations did you receive after winning the title? Any congratulations that particularly surprised you?

I received a lot of messages. You have to work through that first. I didn’t count them, but I estimate that with WhatsApp, text messages, email and all of the social networks together, there were over a thousand. Lukas Podolski, who always congratulates me on winning the title, was also there again.

You are planning to buy some of your DTM-winning cars. What is the status? What do you plan to do with the cars?

Yes and no. The championship winning-cars always go to the Audi museum. I intend to buy at least one car from each generation in which I became champion. As a souvenir, I would like to have a car with the V8 engine, the 2017 model, and a car with the four-cylinder turbo. We are still in talks about how this can be done. 

How much pressure was there at the Hockenheim finale after Nico Müller won Saturday’s race?

Saturday morning, I felt more pressure. We didn’t really know then how strong we were and whether Nico (Müller) would be as superior again as what he was at the Nürburgring, for example. If Nico had dominated both races, we would have had to finish second twice. But on Saturday, we saw that we were fast in qualifying and could have won the race. So, I was much more relaxed on Sunday than on Saturday.

How much does it hurt that the Class 1 era of the DTM is over after such a short time?

It hurts a lot. These were great racing cars – true prototypes and really fast. At Spa, they were not far away from Formula 2 in terms of lap times. It’s very difficult to put these cars in a museum after only two years, but we simply have to be happy and satisfied that we were allowed to drive such race cars at all.