Rene Rast hopes to challenge for top race results in DTM at soon as possible with new team Schubert Motorsport, but emphasized it could take time as he adjusts to life in a new environment after years of racing with Audi.
The three-time DTM champion is set for his first season as a BMW factory driver, joining reigning champion Sheldon van der Linde in a two-car effort for the Oschersleben-based outfit.
Since joining the series in 2016, Rast developed into one of DTM’s most successful drivers with three drivers’ championships and 25 race victories.
All of those successes came with Audi, but Rast left the Ingolstadt marque following the conclusion of last year’s campaign for a move to BMW.
Speaking about his season prospects, Rast expressed both optimism and patience when it comes to the campaign ahead.
“It’s difficult to say, but my goal is always the same,” Rast told Sportscar365.
“I want to win as soon as possible, but I’m also realistic enough and know that it’s not going to be easy.
“Especially having such a strong teammate as Sheldon. I think I can be very lucky to have him by my side as he’s my teammate and I can hopefully learn a lot from him.
“He’s a benchmark. He’s one of the quickest guys on that car. He knows how to drive the car. For sure, still need to learn and try to adapt my driving style even more.
“Obviously that brings me to a goal, which hopefully we’ll be fighting for podiums soon or top five results. But it’s too early to say that.”
The 36-year-old German alluded to an adaptation process he faces moving from the mid-engined Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II to the BMW M4 GT3, a car that has its twin-turbo V6 power plant located in front of the driver.
Rast revealed that he previously tested the BMW at Oschersleben last April prior to the official series test days at the Red Bull Ring, while some more testing followed at the Saxony circuit earlier this week prior to the season opener.
“Obviously it’s a quite big difference between my previous race car and the BMW right now,” said Rast.
“Obviously last year I’ve driven a car which was a mid-engine but also the years before in DTM, all the cars where the engine was in the front as well.
“So from that perspective obviously I’m used to having front-engine cars but obviously BMW is still a different animal and still needs different driving styles.
“So yeah, it’s not that straightforward as you would think.”
Rast spoke positively about his shift from Audi to BMW, noting that the Munich brand welcomed him with “open arms.”
“It’s been very good,” he said.
“Obviously, the transition started already last year, beginning or end of the last year. I’ve been testing already last year with the LMDh car.
“Those were basically my first steps into the BMW family and then beginning of that year, obviously, I joined Schubert Motorsport in DTM and everybody just welcomed me with open arms.
“I feel already quite at home. Everybody is very kind and trying to help me as much as I can.
“Whenever I have questions, everybody is very kind in answering those questions, so that’s good.”
“Obviously, now the real business starts this weekend. First race for BMW M Motorsport, so let’s see.”
Rast Viewing Missing Zandvoort “As a Challenge” in Title Bid
A potential title bid for Rast could be complicated by a calendar clash that will see him miss the championship’s second round at Zandvoort.
Rast will be in action for the NEOM McLaren Formula E Team at the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship round in Portland.
Dries Vanthoor is set to take his seat as a stand-in at the Dutch circuit instead.
Despite of the prospect of not scoring points in two races, the German stated it motivates him to deliver greater performances in other rounds.
“It’s more of a challenge I would say,” he said. “I’ve won championships already before missing a race weekend. So I see it more as a challenge.
“Obviously it’s not always great to start on the back foot, but I see it as a challenge and that actually motivates me more to perform better every race weekend and try to maximize every race and to collect as many points as possible.
“But I don’t see it as a negative. Obviously it’s not great, if you think about the average points you need to collect to win a championship.
“But I just have to collect more points on other weekends. Win some more races here and there.”