Rast with Audi: Uno, due, tre, quattro!
It was time for superlatives. “It was an unbelievable weekend,” René Rast said. “I am incredibly grateful for a good race, a good car, a good pit stop and again good team work. I simply am overjoyed.” At the Red Bull Ring on Sunday, the defending champion wrote another piece of DTM history: after Klaus Ludwig, Nicola Larini and Alessandro Nannini, he is only the fourth driver to score four consecutive race wins in the touring car series. The last one to achieve this to date was Nannini back in 1996. Meanwhile, the day hadn’t got off to a good start at all for the 31-year-old. The best driver in qualifying of the previous season started seventh into the second race at Spielberg while his direct rivals in the battle for the title, Mercedes-AMG drivers Gary Paffett and Paul Di Resta, started the race from first and third place respectively.
Loud radio signal distracts Rast in qualifying
There was an unusual reason for this, as the Austrian resident explained later on: “In the car, it is incredibly loud, so the ear plugs for the radio have to be set to an extremely loud volume. When the radio is activated, you have an extremely loud beep and then a noise. That distracted me on my fastest lap in such a way that I lost control of the car at that very moment. I completely lost my concentration. I certainly would have improved my time. Nobody was able to explain to me why that happened. Of course, that annoyed me.”
At the end of the day, Rast still was the jubilant winner. The Audi driver made a perfect start and immediately moved up into fourth place on the opening lap. A quick pit stop then enabled him to move ahead of the two Mercedes drivers later on. His fellow Audi driver Nico Müller allowed him to overtake with 17 laps remaining without much in terms of defence. Thus, the way was paved for his fourth consecutive win. “Yesterday, we didn’t have the pace to win the race by our own means. Today, we had exactly the opposite. The car worked much better. Today, we were just as strong as Mercedes-AMG.”
No DTM driver has scored five wins in a row yet
Rast is now morally boosted for the season finale at Hockenheim in a little less than three weeks’ time. Again as the hunter, because in 2017, he was second, 21 points down on the leader in the drivers’ standings, Mattias Ekström. Now, he is 26 points down on Di Resta and 30 points down on Paffett. “Last year, we were four Audi drivers still fighting for the title. Back then, I didn’t have any support from my fellow Audi drivers. Now, I surely will be getting more help, as we saw yesterday as well. Every single point probably can help me.” Nevertheless, the 2017 champion still doesn’t have the best chances of the trio of candidates. “There are now two opponents and they both need to have a bad weekend. But we have seen that we can still turn it around by our own means with the right strategy.”
No driver in the DTM has scored five consecutive victories yet. Rast is self-confident enough to try that. After the most recent races, there is little doubt that he could achieve it. “We need yet another perfect weekend. That has to be the goal. When the racing god is helping us, like here on Saturday, everything is possible. But even if not, I am third in the championship. Nobody would have thought that to be possible halfway through the season. We can be proud of that performance. Prior to this weekend, the chance of defending the title was very unrealistic. Now, not so much anymore.”