Last year we sat down with René Rast, two-time DTM champion to talk about his time in the Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland where he won the championship twice and the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup that saw him take on the likes of Nick Tandy, Sean Edwards and Nicki Thiim as he won it three times in a row between 2010 and 2012.
When you first started racing what was your goal and how has that changed over the years?
“At the beginning there was no goal I just enjoyed racing and had fun doing karting and competitions, and then over the years it got a bit more intense, and then every weekend I was on a race track somehow with my family joining me.
“At one point it got quite busy and then we decided either to stop, or do it in a professional way. It was then that we started in Formula racing and that was the first proper car racing on a big circuit around 2003.
How difficult was it to adapt between the different series in your early career and then into driving Porsche?
“I started in Single Seaters 2003/2004 and then in 2005 switched to VW Polo Cup, which was a big difference from a light downforce car to a heavy and low powered Touring Car and a front wheel driven car. It was quite a tough challenge but somehow I adapted pretty well to the Touring Cars quickly and won the Championship in my first year.
“I switched to the Seat Cup in 2006 which was similar to the Polo just a bit more power and maybe a bit more downforce, but similar kind of driving style. Then in 2007 I made the switch to Porsche, which had lots more power and rear wheel drive, this was again a big difference, it took me some time to get used to it; But overall I think it was a good learning curve.
“At that time I learnt to drive the cars and didn’t really have the opportunity to change the set up, so I adapted my driving style to the cars and I think this is still helping me in DTM and other racing series.”
When you joined the Porsche Carrera Cup in 2007 did you think it would lead you to where you are today?
“When I started driving Porsche’s there was DTM in my mind, and I always had a dream to be in DTM. In the end that was always the ultimate goal to be in the DTM, that’s why we chose the Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland in 2007 to start with and then there was a goal to go up the ladder and hopefully be in DTM one day.
“Obviously it happened a bit late, ten years after my first Carrera Cup race I joined DTM. I had hoped it would happen a bit earlier, but i’m happy right now and I think all the time in the Porsche helped me quite a lot.
How helpful was it running both initial Championship in Germany alongside Supercup programme?
“Driving nowadays is quite important, driving every weekend is important and that’s why it helped me quite a lot to get a lot of mileage, a lot of race experience.
“There were a lot of fights on track and you have two Championship battles a year, so it’s a lot of pressure, but I think I grew as a driver a lot doing both Championships in the same year.
“I was in the Championship fight in both Championships and this makes you better as a race driver because you learn how to cope with the pressure, and I am still learning, but in the end that was my biggest learning curve in that time I would say because I was all the time in the Championship fight in those years and it helped me a lot.”
How important do you think one make Championships are to driver development?
“It was very important for me for driver development because as you say everybody has the same opportunities and you cannot really change the set up a lot so as a driver. So you have to adapt to the car which you have, even though you might not like it.
“Especially in the race, if the car understeers or oversteers you have no tools to change it, and the engineers and the mechanics they also have no tools or not a lot of tools.
“That is where the driver develops and improves their own driving, and learn to cope with what they have, they learn to work on the details, and try always to maximise everything.
“To be one step ahead of the others in terms of tyre usage or knowing how many tyre sets the others have left, or when do they use their tyres which tyre pressures do they start with, so lots of small details which you learn in the Porsche Carrera Cup and they are still helping me in DTM.“
What was the biggest challenge to face in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup?
“Hard question. I think the competition was quite tough, and learning the tracks in the beginning especially at first in Supercup everything was new for me, and racing against those big boys was a big challenge in the start.
“At the end for sure I got used to it and I was one of the big boys. I had one year fighting against Nick Tandy, I think it was 2010 or 2011. We were both fighting for the Championship in the last race in Monza and it was one of the hardest challenges I ever had as he made my life, very difficult and I still won the Championship but that was one of the hardest races in Supercup.
What is your favourite memory of your time when racing Porsche’s?
“Winning the Championships I would say, I think I can still remember all of the last races in Supercup, and all these years winning the Championships, those are obviously great memories.
“Winning the Porsche World Cup at the Nurburgring, I still remember almost every lap of that race it was a big achievement, but also the Carrera Cup I had a good time with Sean Edwards in 2012.
“That was a great year, great memory of two good friends and good racing good fair racing so lots of good memories to the Porsche Cups obviously.