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Rast joins BMW as factory driver after Audi exit

Three-time DTM champion Rene Rast will join BMW’s roster of factory drivers in 2023 after announcing his exit from Audi earlier this month.

#31 WRT Oreca 07 - Gibson of Rene Rast

Although the exact details of his programme will be revealed at a later date, BMW said he will drive a number of cars from its stable next year. In 2023, the Munich-based manufacturer will compete in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with the new BMW M Hybrid V8, while also having extensive presence in GT3 racing with the new-for-2024 M4.

Rast will switch to BMW after a 12-year stint with Audi that made him one of the most successful drivers in DTM history with three titles (2017, '19, '20) , 24 wins and 21 pole positions. Outside of the DTM, Rast also made a name for himself in GT racing, winning prestigious 24-hour races at Spa-Francorchamps (twice), the Nurburgring Nordschleife as well as the ADAC GT Masters title in 2014.

“After so many successful years at Audi, I am looking forward to a new challenge,” said Rast. “I followed what has been going on at BMW M Motorsport in the past years and a long time ago, I took my first steps in motor racing in Formula BMW. Returning to BMW now, almost 20 years later, is a great story and a logical step for me.”

BMW M Hybrid V8

BMW M Hybrid V8

Photo by: BMW AG

Rast had previously signed a contract with Audi through the end of the 2023 season, which would have seen him lead the development of its new LMDh contender due for both IMSA and the FIA World Endurance Championship.

However, this programme was unofficially canned at the beginning of the year and is seen as one of the chief reasons behind Rast’s departure from Audi.

It is highly likely that Rast will join BMW’s LMDh programme from 2024, when it expands to WEC after a season solely competing in IMSA. BMW has appointed WRT as its factory team for WEC, the same Belgian squad with which Rast currently races in the LMP2 division of the world championship.

Rast is also expected to race in Formula E next year with the new McLaren team that has taken over the title-winning Mercedes operation.

“I know René Rast very well from my time at Audi and I am delighted that we will work together now at BMW M Motorsport,” said Andreas Roos, Head of BMW M Motorsport. 

“Rene is a very versatile racing driver and a fantastic addition to our squad of drivers. His success speaks for itself. He has immediately been fast in every car he has driven so far. 

“He also has a meticulous approach to his job, which has always impressed me. I am confident that he will be a great help to us in many areas, whether it be racing or developing our cars.”

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