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“Played the apprentice boy”: How Rast got to the top so quickly at BMW

Despite missing a race weekend, Rene Rast finished fifth in the 2023 DTM season and was immediately at the top level in the M4 GT3: How he achieved this feat

Rene Rast had to miss one weekend in the 2023 DTM season due to a clash of dates with Formula E, in which the driver from Minden was competing for McLaren. Despite these two zero laps, the three-time DTM champion finished a strong fifth overall, although he was in a BMW M4 GT3 that was new to him and hardly had any time to get used to it. BMW Head of Motorsport Andreas Roos is delighted with Rast’s performance

“I’m very satisfied, considering how little testing and preparation time Rene had in our GT3 car,” “Because he was concentrating on Formula E at the beginning and the cars are very different, we tried to separate the two. And then he was the fastest BMW at Oschersleben and in qualifying.”

Rast was absent in Zandvoort, but after his return the 37-year-old really turned up the heat. Two second places at the Norisring and victory in Spielberg were the highlights of a strong season in which Rast once again showed how much the DTM suits him. “He also won his first race for BMW this year,” continued Roos. “But anyone who knows Rene knows that he is capable of such feats and can also adapt very quickly from one car to another. “

From Audi to BMW

Rast, who previously raced with Audi in the DTM in both the Class 1 and GT3 eras, had to get used to “a completely different concept” at BMW than with the R8, according to Roos. The BMW Head of Motorsport explains: “The Audi was a mid-engined car, ours has a front engine, which is a different car. But you can see the strength and quality of Rene that he can adapt in such a short time and immediately drive at the highest level.

But how did Rast manage to be so competitive straight away despite limited testing time and short preparation? Roos has a clear answer: “One of Rene’s strengths is that he is extremely meticulous and can glean a lot from data. With Sheldon van der Linde, he had the reigning champion in this car as a team-mate. That is initially the best reference and the first point of reference to get your bearings.”

“He did that perfectly – even though Sheldon is actually the junior and Rene the older driver, Rene first played the apprentice and learned from Sheldon. And so he got up to the same level relatively quickly,” says Roos, recalling the dynamic in the Schubert team. So Rast initially subordinated himself in order to gain the necessary experience to then be able to attack.

Rast impresses with his meticulous work

Although van der Linde was Rast’s first opponent on the track, the two worked well together to move BMW forward in the DTM, according to Roos. The South African finished directly ahead of Rast in fourth place overall. “It’s a very healthy rivalry,” Roos attests. “There will also be races in the future where the two of them will be in the car together and then hopefully win the race,” he says, referring to endurance racing

Roos already knows the role that studying data plays for Rast from their time together at Audi. “Rene prefers to use his own laptop and look at the data himself. Even during my very first test, the first thing he asked for was the laptop – and that he could look at the data himself. That’s how Rene is. And he’s kept that up.”

What Rast sees in the data, he can then “implement very quickly and very well in the car,” says the BMW Head of Motorsport, who also played a role in the three-time DTM champion’s switch to the Munich-based team.

In the 2024 DTM season, there will be no overlaps with the World Endurance Championship (WEC), in which Rast is likely to compete. “It looks better this time,” says Roos, looking forward to a full season for the 37-year-old.

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