Motorsport.com spoke to new Audi Sport Team Joest driver Rene Rast today as he prepared for a full day of testing at Sebring in the No.9 Audi R18 e-tron Quattro on Thurday.
Audi is conducting several days of running with all three of their crews getting a full day of testing in the 2015 spec R18 e-tron Quattro.
How much running have you had in the R18 e-tron Quattro so far, Rene?
“I did four days at Aragon in Spain about a month ago. Now I have some good time in the car here at Sebring, but I know the track from a race I did here in 2011 in a Porsche RSR but obviously this will be my first time here in an LMP1 car.
“We’ll be doing some endurance testing this week, getting lots of mileage on the car and also to get me in to a good rhythm with some long runs. Marcel (Fassler), Benoit (Treluyer) and Andre (Lotterer) have gone already and today the No.8 car has been testing.
“Tomorrow it is our turn. Then after that we go to Paul Ricard for the official test and then Silverstone for the first FIA WEC race. I will be there to look and learn. Then after that we have another big endurance test in April, and then it will be Spa and my first race.”
Was your first Le Mans 24 Hours with Sebastien Loeb Racing last year a deliberate strategy in readiness for this year with Audi?
“No not at all. It was completely incidental and nothing to do with Audi. I knew that if I wanted to do LMP1 then I needed to gain some experience with prototype cars.
“I think without any LMP experience it is very difficult to get a drive and a chance. It was a big help for me to get the LMP1 deal last year and I learned a lot at Le Mans last year, it was very good for me.”
Technically you have to familiarise and process a lot of new information this year?
“Yes, this is one of the most difficult things for me to get familiar with. On the Audi R8 there are maybe two buttons on the steering wheel but in the R18 you have to adjust and be familiar with many things. There is so much technology even in the car as it is so complex at first.
“My teammates and of course the engineers are really trying to help me all the time which is good but I am feeling quite comfortable already.”
What are your aims and objectives for your first season in LMP1 this year?
“The most important thing for me is to learn as much as possible but of course I am highly competitive so I want to do well with my teammates. We have one of the best cars in the field, especially at Le Mans.
“When you look back at how many times Audi has been successful there it gives you a very good feeling. Honestly, it would be like a dream come true to be on the podium in my first year in LMP1. That is my little dream for the No.9 car this year.”
Rene Rast was talking to Sam Smith