Porsche Supercup: Saudi Arabia’s Al Faisal Lechner Team jubilant as René Rast takes Championship win in Monza
Sep 12th -Monza- Al Faisal Lechner Racing, René Rast the 23-year-old German secured the Porsche Mobil1 Supercup title . “That was a tough fight,” he said after the last race of the season for the world’s fastest international brand trophy series. “I’m very happy to have won the championship. That was my greatest goal.”
Last year, the young German was a contender for the title. The talent was there, only experience was missing. When he celebrated his first victory in Silverstone he had already missed the championship train. Despite clinching five victories in 2009, Rast only took home vice-championship honours. This season he has four wins under his belt and won the title. “If you want to win a championship,” he says, “you also have to know when to hold back. That’s not easy because race drivers always want to win. But this is something I have learned.”
This year he didn’t wait as long to bring home his first victory. On the contrary, he won both races from pole position at the double-header in Bahrain, impressively underlining his title aspirations. Zero points from Barcelona were not so upsetting, as he went on to take victory in Monaco and followed it up in Valencia. The stress that faces the points’ leader at every round of the Porsche Mobil1 Supercup with its top-class grid line-up didn’t cause the Al Faisal Lechner Racing pilot any sleepless nights. He has always managed pressure well. “I tackle every race in a calm and cool-headed way,” he says, “any other way is useless.” His proof: He took up four races from pole position, and he climbed the podium every other time he reached the flag, except from Monza. An impressive track record.
For Rast, the strong competition in the Porsche Mobil1 Supercup was never a problem, but a challenge instead. Even as a kid this approach yielded success: At four years old he contested his first race – with an electric car on a Supermarket parking in his home town of Steyerberg. “My opponents were good and twice my age,” he remembers. “But I still wouldn’t let them win.” After a short detour to Motocross, his uncle put him into a kart as a seven-year-old. From this point on, he worked hard to develop his racing career: In 2003 and 2004 he contested the Formula BMW, in 2005 he won the VW Polo Cup before going on to become vice-champion of the Seat Leon Supercopa in 2006. Rast sat at the wheel of a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup for the first time in 2007. A year later he won the Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland.
“For me the only important thing was to go racing – in beautiful cars, the faster the better. Actually, I wasn’t really interested in the race series,” admits René Rast. And nothing has changed since. “The most important thing for me is to have fun. And if I can make a living out of it, all the better.”
Despite the enthusiasm, René Rast is not one to think about motorsport day and night. “I take it very seriously, of course, but you also have to have a distraction,” he says. At home his distraction is sport, above all cycling and fitness – and playing on the football table at his parents’ place. He likes to go to the movies or meet up with friends. These are the diversions he needs between races. But over the next few months he won’t have too much time for leisure. In January he sits his final exams as an office clerk and for this, he smiles, he has to, “pull one or two text books out of the corner. During the race season, my studies are somewhat neglected.”
Winning the title is perhaps an early reward for passing his examination. In any case, it is a great opportunity to take a look at his successes this year. This is what René Rast says about…
… the 2010 season:
“A great year. I won four races and claimed second once and third twice. And with a new team, at that.”
… the key to his success:
“That was for sure due to our consistency. We were fast at every race and as far as speed was concerned we were always in the top three. In a brand trophy with so many strong drivers like the Porsche Mobil1 Supercup, it’s particularly important to always finish up the front. Without this consistency, you might win one or two races but you’ll never be champion.”
… his best victory:
“It was a huge relief to win the season-opening races in Bahrain. Before the season took off, I was not sure if everything would go as smoothly as I imagined. But from that point on everyone knew I was fighting for the championship, despite being with a new team. In Bahrain I showed in which direction the season would go. And that was very important.”
… his Al Faisal Lechner Racing team:
“A very professional team. Right from the start I got on well with the mechanics and the engineers, although we’d never met before. In preparation for the season we had one day of testing in Bahrain, but you could already see at that point that everything would work very well between us. In fact, we never had any problems. Every driver dreams of such a crew. Walter Lechner and his squad have been in the business for a very long time. That’s probably why they can get used to a new driver so quickly.”
… his strengths:
“I’ve learned that you have to be able to compromise sometimes if you want to win a championship, and be happy with second or third. Okay, a race driver always wants to win, that’s simply part of the package. If you are not first, you get frustrated. But a good race driver is one who keeps his cool in challenging situations and doesn’t do anything stupid, but instead says: Good, now I’ll take these points home for second and third and at the next race I’ll be back in force.”
… his dreams:
“I want to continue racing. To do something you love and make a living out of it is a real privilege and I’m very grateful for this. And for this, I’ll be doing my best in the future, as well.”
Team Abu Dhabi’s Sean Edwards clinched second place as teammate Sascha Maassen clawed back four places to end 12th, leaving the outfit fourth overall for the 2010 Team Championship.
Starting the day’s action in fifth from the grid, Edwards put in a sterling display on the 5.7 kms ‘Autodromo Nazionale’ to clinch his second podium finish in as many races, after an impressive run last month saw him take his first season win at Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps.
“The car was really great in qualifying and I think realistically I should have been fighting for second or third. Unfortunately, I was held up in both of my session’s fast laps,” said the enigmatic Briton, who was just 0.3 seconds off winner Nick Tandy in the Italian showpiece.
“This was one of the craziest races I’ve contested with a lot of overtaking. Our car was super-fast and I was finally able to put myself behind Nick in second position. It’s great to be fourth in the team championship. It was a fantastic first season with Team Abu Dhabi and I hope to win the next one,” added Edwards, who finished sixth overall in the Drivers’ Championship.
German veteran Maassen experienced a weekend of mixed feelings at Monza. Having qualified in 16th, the 40-year-old posted one of the day’s fastest race laps to end in just 12th – leaving him six positions behind Edwards in the Drivers’ Championship.
“It was a typical Monza-race with a lot of pushing and shoving. It’s difficult to play catch up if you constantly have to fight against others. However, it was a lot of fun,” said Maassen.
Team Abu Dhabi’s Emirati driver Khaled Al Qubaisi also had a tough last race. Despite starting well and posting a string of impressive lap times, a premature braking manoeuvre saw the 34-year-old Abu Dhabi resident spin out on to the gravel, ending what has been a solid debut season with the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority-backed outfit.
“The qualifying was not as good as I liked, which meant I was back on the grid for the race start. In the first fast lap, I pushed too hard. In the second, I was able to improve, however, the track was packed so overtaking was difficult,” said Al Qubaisi.
“At first it went well and I was able to set a fastest lap in the first sector. I am proud that I can now contest with some competitors that beat me at the beginning of the season. Unfortunately, I made a braking mistake when overtaking but I am happy about the six points that I contributed to the team’s fourth place standing.”
Championship Standings 2010
1 16 René Rast GER 152
2 1 Nicholas Tandy GBR 146
3 15 Norbert Siedler AUT 98
4 23 Jaap van Lagen NED 98
5 14 Jan Seyffarth GER 97
6 19 Sean Edwards GBR 95
7 17 Jeroen Bleekemolen NED 92
8 4 Stefan Rosina SVK 90
9 21 Patrick Huisman NED 82
10 10 Kuba Giermaziak POL 56
11 22 Christian Engelhart GER 54
12 18 Sascha Maassen GER 52
13 8 Matt Halliday NZL 48
14 3 Alessandro Zampedri ITA 46
15 6 Tim Bridgman GBR 45
16 11 Sebastiaan Bleekemolen NED 35
17 9 Robert Lukas POL 27
18 7 William Langhorne USA 25
19 24 Thomas Messer GER 10
20 12 Robert van den Berg NED 9
21 20 Khaled Al Qubaisi UAE 6
22 2 Siso Cunill ESP 3
23 5 Niall Breen IRL 0