Frijns 'realistic' about emulating Rast's rookie DTM title victory

Audi DTM newcomer Robin Frijns believes it would not be "realistic" for him to target emulating Rene Rast's shock 2017 championship challenge

Frijns 'realistic' about emulating Rast's rookie DTM title victory

Rast, who had three DTM starts to his name before joining Audi's permanent line-up last year, and won the drivers' title at his first full attempt.

In the process he beat his vastly more experienced stable-mates Mattias Ekstrom and Jamie Green.

But despite Rast's successes, Frijns - who is replacing Ekstrom in the Audi set-up - does not believe it is sensible to expect to match that level of performance from the outset.

"Last year Rast became the rookie champion," he said.

"That is, of course, what I would like to see, but it is not realistic.

"I have to be realistic, there are a lot of guys who have years of experience, who have been driving in the DTM for more than 10 years.

"It is therefore not rational to expect yourself to be in front of them [from the beginning]. I'm realistic about myself, I'm not going to tell myself to take pole.

"I want to be competitive and take some points, and learn."

Rast's title charge last year was aided by Audi's dominance, particularly after DTM removed performance weights mid-way through the campaign.

But new regulations to cut downforce that come into effect for 2018 have led the marque to declare it has been put at a "disadvantage" by the new rules.

Frijns stressed that the manufacturer's "lead from last year has been somewhat lost due to changes in the regulations".

However, he reckoned that the new rules meant his lack of DTM experience was less of a hindrance.

Frijns' thoughts on his debut year were echoed by Audi motorsport boss Dieter Gass, who told Autosport: "Three titles [drivers', teams' and manufacturers'] last year for Audi and a rookie winning the championship rarely happens.

"You can't expect that from a rookie. DTM is tough and close, but it's a good moment to step in.

"There have been significant changes in regulations with downforce. Experience is not that important so I think he [Frijns] can perform very well."

While the expectations for the Dutchman's rookie season are tempered, Gass added that Frijns' trophy cabinet - which includes first-year titles in Formula Renault 2.0, Formula Renault 3.5 and Blancpain GT - should mark him out as a future DTM championship contender.

"He's won all of the championships that he seriously competed in," Gass said.

"Maybe not this year [in DTM] but I hope there's an opportunity for the future."

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2018 DTM changes put Audi at 'disadvantage', says boss Dieter Gass
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