Decorated: René Rast and Gary Paffett honoured within the framework of the Race Night
The AUTO BILD MOTORSPORT and AUTO BILD SPORTSCARS Race Night has been a constant of the Essen Motor Show kick-off evening for 17 years. And in 2018, the DTM drivers once again were honoured in the festive atmosphere of this event. Gary Paffett was awarded the traditional accolade for the DTM Champion and René Rast was elected German racing driver of the year. In addition to the two DTM aces, the long-term Ferrari Team Principal and current FIA President Jean Todt took centre stage. In Essen, the Frenchman was decorated by the ‘Axel Springer Verlag’ trade magazines with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
“Had somebody told me prior to the season that I’d win the Race of Champions together with Timo Bernhard, secure seven DTM race wins – six of them in succession – and finish the DTM season as vice-champion I certainly would have signed this deal,” says Rast who was presented with his award by AUTO BILD MOTORSPORT managing editor Bianca Garloff. “2018 was a really great, great year with emotions galore. The start into the season was difficult but I worked my way out of the problems and improved consistently. This was a season I’ll never forget.”
Meanwhile, Paffett looked back at his last DTM season for the time being with a lot of emotions. “My season was absolutely wonderful,” said the Britain. “To win the DTM title represents a real challenge anyway and doing so for the second time, after 10 years, is just fantastic. There aren’t many drivers who succeeded in doing so. 2018 was a really good year for me. The first half of the season was dominated by Mercedes-AMG and in the second, René Rast in particular was on a stunning roll. Consequently, the battle for the title was taken down to the very last race of the season. A perfect finish for a series where both drivers and manufacturers are fighting for the crown. For all those involved in the Mercedes-AMG camp it was a very special season – and I have been a member of this family for 15 years. To be the last Mercedes-AMG Champion in DTM is something I’m really proud of. And for the brand it also was the best way to bow out of DTM.”
Over the course of the evening, further motor-sport accolades were awarded to Formula 4 Rookie Champion David Schumacher, son of Ralf Schumacher, to Porsche and Timo Bernhard for the marketing idea of the year, the Porsche 919 Hybrid Tribute Tour – and to Marijan Griebel as Rally driver of the year.