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Triple DTM champion Rast joins Abt for 2022 series return

Three-time DTM champion Rene Rast will join Abt Sportsline for his series return in 2022, partnering fellow Audi factory driver Kelvin van der Linde.

Rene Rast, Abt Sportsline

Rast left the DTM after clinching his third title in 2020 to focus on a full-season programme in Formula E, where he scored a best finish of second in Mexico.

Following Audi's departure from the all-electric series in favour of new projects in the Dakar Rally and LMDh, it was revealed last October that Rast would make his DTM return in 2022 along with leading development on Audi's as-yet-unnamed LMDh racer.

It has now been announced that Rast will partner 2021 DTM title challenger van der Linde at Abt, the team that ran Audi's FE programme.

Rast won each of his DTM titles with Team Rosberg, which struggled to match Abt in 2021 as the DTM switched to GT3 regulations. Team leader and Rast's main rival in 2019-20 Nico Muller struggled to tenth in the standings, registering only one podium at Monza.

“I’m very happy to be returning to the DTM after a year’s break, I never lost my desire for the DTM,” said 35-year-old Rast.

“Audi wanted me to concentrate fully on Formula E last season. I was on site at a few DTM races, I liked what I saw.

“I will have almost the same crew from Formula E in the DTM. My engineer will remain the same, as will my chief mechanic and some of the mechanics.

“We are a super well-coordinated team. It just made sense to continue together.” 

Rene Rast, Abt Sportsline and Thomas Biermaier, Team Principal

Rene Rast, Abt Sportsline and Thomas Biermaier, Team Principal

Photo by: Abt Sportsline

Rast is an accomplished driver in GT3-spec racing, having clinched the 2014 GT Masters’ title together with van der Linde in a previous generation Audi R8, and enjoyed enormous success in 24-hour races.

He has won the Spa 24 Hours twice, (2012, 2014) claimed the Nurburgring 24 Hours in 2014 and won the GTD class at the 2016 Daytona 24 Hours.

But Rast maintains that his previous success in the series will count for little, and said the changes to the series means “it won’t be a walk in the park”.

“The DTM is now with GT3 cars, which I have experience with, but very little compared to the likes of Kelvin van der Linde and the others,” he said. 

“It will probably take me some time to get used to it again and learn the little tricks of the trade from the guys who have been driving these cars for seven, eight years. It’s quite clear that it’s going to be very hard. 

“You also saw last year how other former DTM drivers or even other greats from motorsport struggled in the series. 

“I hope that I can race for victories and that I can manage my learning curve, so that at the end of the year, I could possibly fight for a podium position somewhere in the overall standings.

“The most important thing is that the title finally comes back [to the Abt team].”

Abt's van der Linde ended up third in the drivers’ standings behind champion Maximilian Gotz (HRT Mercedes) and Red Bull Ferrari driver Liam Lawson.

It is expected that Abt will continue to run a third Audi in Schaeffler's colours this year, although Sophia Floersch will not return with the team for a second season.

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