Here’s Why Rene Rast Left Audi After 12 Years to Try His Luck with BMW

Rene Rast was destined to compete for Audi during his professional racing career. After all, the collaboration had produced such […]

Rene Rast

Rene Rast was destined to compete for Audi during his professional racing career. After all, the collaboration had produced such great results throughout several championships that it would have been only reasonable for Rast to continue working with the German company until he made the decision to hang up his helmet.

A substantial salary would have been guaranteed even after retirement because he would have probably received an ambassadorial position from Audi afterward. Rast, however, will unexpectedly quit Audi after this season, with one year remaining on his contract, and begin competing for BMW as a factory driver in 2023.

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Rast left Audi for various reasons, but the main one was that he didn’t see himself working at the Ingolstadt company for the foreseeable future, particularly after the company decided to shelve its eagerly awaited LMDh project at the beginning of the year.

Rast signed a two-year deal in October 2021 based on the LMDh program. Together with DTM opponent Nico Muller, they were responsible for leading the development of the vehicle that would have brought Audi back to Le Mans for the first time since 2016.

Rast would lose out on the opportunity to promote himself on a global platform and improve his results in two races in Audi’s LMP1 vehicle back in 2015. Being denied the chance to compete for outright victories at Le Sarthe was a deal-breaker for a driver as driven to victory as he was.

Rast left the team, but his decision was not only motivated by the lack of a World Endurance Championship program focused on Le Mans. Rast was the only viable choice available to Audi in other championships, at least in the long run but maybe not in the near term.

Rast won’t be 40 years old by the time the brand’s factory squad in Formula 1 debuts until 2026. Audi won’t have any reason to consider him for a race due to his lack of experience in petrol single-seaters, especially if it can find other drivers more suitable for the position.

That’s not all, either. The future of the brand’s sporting GT racing consumers is in doubt since the next-generation Audi R8 will be an electric vehicle instead of an internal combustion engine. Although the Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo’s second upgrade was introduced earlier this year, it is still unknown what will happen after the present model completes homologation.

Doubts regarding Audi Sport’s future would undoubtedly decrease Rast’s interest in a long-term GT program. Fortunately for the German, Audi saw his situation and agreed to free him at the end of the 2022 season. Two of his championship-winning DTM Class One cars were placed on display at a special goodbye ceremony that was also conducted in Neuburg am Donau, Germany.

Rast’s separation from Audi was really so amicable that, despite officially being under contract with the company until December 31, 2022, he was even permitted to test his own BMW LMDh vehicle in Aragon earlier this month.

Rast and Roos initially discussed a possible switch to BMW during the March IMSA race weekend at Sebring, when Rast was participating in an LMP2 car for G-Drive. Rast officially recognized BMW’s factory driver on August 22, a week after he confirmed his departure from Audi.