The man is unflappable. Even if he is sometimes nervous, which is seldom the case, he does not show it. “I tackle every race calmly and quietly, any other way is useless,” says René Rast who secured his third straight championship title in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup in Monza at the wheel of his 450 hp Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. Only Patrick Huisman from the Netherlands is more successful with four title victories.
The self-possession with which René Rast left his mark on the world’s fastest international one-make race series is remarkable. Even when he is under pressure, the 25-year-old race driver from Steyerberg in Germany never loses the plot. It seems he always keeps control of the situation. Five drivers travelled to the last round holding title chances – but like in 2010 and 2011 it was somehow logical that René Rast would again be the one at the front. The secret to his success? “I believe in myself,” he says, “and I know what I can do.”
His greatest strength again this season was his consistency. Added to this was his strategy to sometimes step back and take home safe points rather than risk a retirement. “Of course you always want to win as a race driver, you’ve just got that in you. If you’re not first you’re not happy,” he states. “But the thing that makes a good race driver is that he keeps his cool under difficult circumstances and doesn’t do anything rash.” And that is exactly what he did again this season: After his season-opening victory in Bahrain he went on the win the next races in Valencia, Silverstone and Hockenheim at the wheel of the Lechner Racing Team Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, which is based on the street-legal lightweight 911 GT3 RS sports car. With his fifth win of the season in Monza, the 20th success of his Supercup career, he again took home the title. Over the course of the year, Rast posted four pole positions. None of his rivals could match such a top class performance.
“I’m fast on every race track. There is none where I would say it doesn’t suit me. Plus I hardly ever make mistakes,” he says, naming some of the reasons for his continuing superiority. And this doesn’t just come from out of the blue. Although he outwardly always appears relaxed and sometimes plays practical jokes in the paddock, he is completely focussed on his profession. “I put a great deal of time into analysing the data,” he explains. “Sometimes I lie awake in bed and think about how I could go even faster.”
This perseverance pays off. With his strong performance in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup, René Rast recommended himself for other race series. And he didn’t disappoint there either. This season he won not only the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps but also the GT class of the legendary 24 Hours at Daytona with Porsche. He looks back fondly on his victory at the thrilling endurance race in Florida. “That was really exhausting but absolutely wonderful,” he says. He never gave it a thought that he might not be able to tackle this huge task, or fulfil expectations. “If you’re quick in a Porsche in the Supercup, then you’re quick in a Porsche anywhere in the world.”
René Rast never regards strong opposition as a problem, but rather as a challenge. And it was with this attitude that he competed as a youngster when he contested and won his first race in an electric car on a supermarket car park in Steyerberg. “My opponents were good and twice my age, but I wasn’t daunted,” he explains. His career began in a kart before heading into Formula BMW, the VW Polo Cup and the Seat Leon Supercopa. He then switched to the Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland and was crowned champion of the popular series in 2008.
“For me it was always important to race. It didn’t matter what series it was,” he says. Nothing has changed today and probably not in the future either. He wants to sit at the wheel of fast cars, he wants to do what he loves to do, and preferably be the best. “Racing is my life,” he says. “I can’t imagine doing anything else.”