We were “never competitive enough” for the fourth DTM title.

On his return to the DTM after a year in Formula E, Abt driver Rast put together a credible title challenge and achieved one win, six podiums and three poles with the revised Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II.

In the end, however, he missed the fourth DTM title in his last season as an Audi driver, finishing third in the overall standings behind champion Sheldon van der Linde (BMW) and second-placed Lucas Auer (Mercedes).

There were some serious complaints from Audi about the BoP of the series after Rast fought for fifth place in the opening race at Hockenheim, with Chris Reinke, the brand’s head of customer sport, telling Motorsport.com that the situation on Saturday was a ” farce”.

Audi were subsequently handed a larger air limiter ahead of Sunday’s showdown, while Mercedes and BMW’s performance was scaled back in response to their podium suspensions.

When asked Rast if the BoP change is enough to improve Audi’s prospects for the race: “That was pretty obvious I think.

“It’s not easy for these decision makers to always have the right measurements, so you can’t say they did a bad job. They also try their best.

“Our last win for Audi was at Imola, that was five races ago.

“We’ve always been kind of in the mix, but never competitive enough to win races at our own pace, which of course is a bit frustrating.

“But I think we did everything we could, we got the points, we didn’t make any stupid mistakes.

“I’ve always kind of kept it on course, made the right strategy calls. It wasn’t enough in the end, but that’s how it is sometimes.”

René Rast, Team ABT Sportsline

Photo: Alexander Trienitz

Rast needed to win Sunday’s final race at Hockenheim after taking pole position to snatch the crown from van der Linde, but lost the lead at the start to a fast-paced Walkenhorst BMW’s Marco Wittmann.

Unable to regain position on track, Rast pitted a lap ahead of the two-time champion, putting him just behind her after their mandatory stops.

Rast and Wittmann then fought a close battle for the win, wheeling several times before Rast finally turned into Turn 12.

It was all for naught, however, as on the following lap Rast went deep into the bend at Turn 5 and Wittmann came through again to claim his first win of the season.

Rast said he enjoyed the fight with Wittmann and would have liked to fight with him to the end of the race, but felt he lacked the pace to keep up with him.

“It was a lot of fun fighting with Marco,” he recalled. “He came out on the track with cold tires and I felt confident that I could try what I had and we fought hard.

“But I think it was tough but fair even though we touched a lot. But that’s what we want to see in the DTM, tough racing. Everything was under control.

“I wish I could have continued fighting like him for the rest of the race like we have done in the past. It probably would have been possible with DRS and push-to-pass, but we just weren’t fast enough and at some point I made a mistake.

“I had to push like crazy to stay in front of him, going through the grass and he passed me on the straight. But it was a matter of time, if not on this lap, then on the next he would have passed me.”

2022 was only the second time Rast had lost the title since coming into the series in 17 with Audi, with his only other loss of the 2018 season to Mercedes’ Gary Paffett.

Nevertheless, the 35-year-old can be satisfied with the Abt Audi team, which they achieved in their first season together in the GT3 era of the DTM.

“After second place in the last race of the season, we can still be proud of our performance, get the maximum out of almost every weekend and still be third in the championship,” said Rast.

“It is not so bad. I finished all of my five DTM seasons on the podium and I’m very happy with that.”

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