Despite a shock last minute call-up, WEC star Rene Rast excelled on his DTM debut with Audi after replacing the injured the Adrien Tambay for the Sunday leg of the Zandvoort weekend.
The current LMP2 driver was called upon by the Team Rosberg Audi squad after its driver Tambay suffered an injury to his left hand following a start-line skirmish with Mercedes' Maximilian Gotz and BMW's Martin Tomczyk.
Thrown in at the deep end, Rast immediately took the weekend in his stride and qualified a highly credible 22nd out of the 24 runners.
The German's maiden DTM foray improved yet further as Rast kept his nose clean ended the day with an 18th place finish during the one-hour race, beating regulars in the process.
Rast has been a familiar name within the Audi fold during the last few seasons after representing the German manufacturer within its LMP1 WEC programme while also competing in the Blancpain Endurance Series.
“It was very surprising [to be called up]. When I got the call I jumped directly into the car. It was lucky I had my helmet with me – it was a fun story!” said Rast.
“I tried to improve myself slowly. If you have a crash in practice, qualifying and the race is over already. So I took things slow and tried to improve myself lap-by-lap. At the end of the race I was still improving so I felt I wasn't on the 100% limit.
“I felt much more comfortable at the end of the race because I did a lot more laps. The weekend's over, I would like to start again but it's not possible.”
Amazingly, his debut in the Audi RS 5 was the first time Rast has raced around Zandvoort in a high downforce car, something the 29-year old said took a bit of acclimatising to while having to deal with the close-quarter on-track nature of the DTM.
Rast went long during the first stint which meant the DTM rookie featured within the top-ten order prior to making his mandatory pit-stop.
“I had no expectations of the car. I was surprised by the downforce in the high speed corners. The car was pretty amazing there as was the brakes. I've never run a high downforce car at Zandvoort before so I had to learn a lot there,” Rast explained.
“The on-track battles aren't easy. I had Juncadella behind me and he was trying to attack and I was outside the DRS window myself. I was able to hold the position which was good for me.
“During the race we had a very long first stint, which was difficult to manage but in the end I was catching up to the cars in front again. The first stint felt like an age.”