Porsche Supercup and DTM champion Rast remembers Walter Lechner

Triple Porsche Supercup and DTM champion Rene Rast remembers the late Walter Lechner, who died on Wednesday aged 71

Porsche Supercup and DTM champion Rast remembers Walter Lechner

For 10 of the 11 most recent seasons, if a driver wanted to win the Porsche Supercup championship, they've needed to do it with one of Walter Lechner's machines.

In that time, the Austrian's eponymous Lechner Racing team has guided two drivers to making history in the Formula 1 support series: both three-time champions, Rene Rast (2010-12) and Michael Ammermuller (2017-19) are the most decorated Supercup racers.

Lechner, a two-time Le Mans 24 Hours entrant who raced as recently as 2015 in the International GT Open aboard a Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 aged 65, died on Wednesday.

Rast, now a three-time DTM champion and Audi Formula E driver, tells Autosport why Lechner's cars consistently found an edge in a one-make championship where hundredths - rather than tenths of a second - decide who lines up on pole.

"Walter never really was afraid of putting everything perfect," says Rast.

"He had the best mechanics, the best engineers, the best material. He wasn't afraid to invest. In motorsport, if you want to do something, do it properly. He always did things perfect.

"That's why he's always been the best in the business over the last 10 years in Porsche Supercup. He hired the best people."

In his driving career, Lechner amassed title success in the 1982 German and European Formula Super Vee divisions prior to his Interserie championship win the following year.

He also created his own Lechner Racing School academy, which helped forge the careers of Stefan Bellof and Roland Ratzenberger as well as Toto Wolff - although Lechner's advice for the future Mercedes Formula 1 team principal was to look at options outside of the cockpit.

Rast adds: "He never told me what to do, but he always talked a lot about the past and told cool stories with Stefan Bellof and Toto Wolff and all those things. He was good for a laugh. He shared a lot of memories.

One such memory Rast has of Lechner comes from the only time he saw his former team boss lose his cool.

"I've only seen him once very angry. I remember when we were testing in Abu Dhabi, it was a brand-new Porsche Cup car.

"I was basically doing only three or four laps and then I spun and hit the wall backwards in this completely new race car. He was a bit angry; it was the only time I saw angry in my whole career."

Shunt aside, Rast recalls a strong bond with the person responsible for the success that put him on the radar.

"Back in the day, Walter basically gave me the opportunity to race in the Porsche Supercup, which opened a lot of doors for me in international motorsport.

"I can call him a true friend. We were still in contact almost every month even after we basically split our ways. He was a very kind and polite and nice guy, who was always honest.

"He was a pure racer. He was also next to me on the starting grid giving me advice, helping me with whatever problem came up.

"Even though he was already 60, he was still very sharp in his mind. He knew what was going on. He was a very good team principal and we had a lot of good times.

"We had so much success together, I will never forget what he did for me and also the times we had. It's just been an amazing journey with him."

shares
comments
Motorsport Network's Canossa Events acquires Cavallino Inc

Previous article

Motorsport Network's Canossa Events acquires Cavallino Inc

Next article

Magazine: Russell and Perez star in F1 Sakhir GP; WRC Monza finale

Magazine: Russell and Perez star in F1 Sakhir GP; WRC Monza finale
Load comments

About this article

Series General
Author Matt Kew
The one-time Schumacher rival rebooting his career Down Under Plus

The one-time Schumacher rival rebooting his career Down Under

Joey Mawson made waves in the middle of the last decade, beating future Haas Formula 1 driver Mick Schumacher - among other highly-rated talents - to the 2016 German F4 title. A run in F1's feeder GP3 category only caused his career to stall, but now back in Australia Mawson's S5000 title success has set that to rights

General
May 8, 2021
The lesson football’s would-be wreckers could learn from racing Plus

The lesson football’s would-be wreckers could learn from racing

OPINION: The greed-driven push for a European Super League that threatened to tear football apart is collapsing at the seams. Motor racing's equivalent, the football-themed Superleague Formula series of 2008-11, was everything that the proposed ESL never could be

General
Apr 21, 2021
The F1 and Indy 'nearly man' that found contentment in Japan Plus

The F1 and Indy 'nearly man' that found contentment in Japan

Having had the door to F1 slammed in his face and come within three laps of winning the Indianapolis 500, the collapse of a Peugeot LMP1 shot meant Japan was Bertrand Baguette's last chance of a career. But it's one which he has grasped with both hands

General
Feb 27, 2021
The female all-rounder who arrived "too early" Plus

The female all-rounder who arrived "too early"

From Formula 3 to truck racing, Dakar and EuroNASCAR via a winning stint in the DTM, there's not much Ellen Lohr hasn't seen in a stellar racing career that highlights the merit in being a generalist. But she believes her career came too early...

General
Feb 17, 2021
How Radical's latest machines fare on track Plus

How Radical's latest machines fare on track

The lightweight sportscar manufacturer has not rewritten the rulebook with its latest machines, but the new SR3 XX and SR10 still provide a step forward on its previous successful models

General
Feb 8, 2021
The real-life racing rogues stranger than fiction Plus

The real-life racing rogues stranger than fiction

The forthcoming Netflix film linking the world of underworld crime and motorsport plays on a theme that isn't exactly new. Over the years, several shady figures have attempted to make it in racing before their dubious dealings caught up with them

General
Jan 31, 2021
How a GP is thriving in a COVID-free territory Plus

How a GP is thriving in a COVID-free territory

The New Zealand Grand Prix's mix of rising talent and big-name stars thrilled the crowds (yes, remember crowds?) assembled for the Toyota Racing Series meeting at Hampton Downs last weekend and left distant observers craving a repeat

General
Jan 26, 2021
How a much-changed Macau GP kept the party going Plus

How a much-changed Macau GP kept the party going

OPINION: The 67th edition of the Macau Grand Prix might have been a largely muted affair to the outside world without its international influx and star line-ups, another victim to the COVID-19 pandemic, but organisers deserve huge credit for keeping the party going

General
Nov 24, 2020