frijns: emulating rast's rookie dtm title not realistic

11:14    09 Apr 2018

Audi DTM newcomer Robin Frijns believes it would not be “realistic” for him to target emulating Rene Rast's shock 2017 championship victory.

Rast, who had three DTM starts to his name before joining Audi's line-up full-time in 2017, won the drivers' title at his first attempt, seeing off vastly more experienced stablemates Mattias Ekstrom and Jamie Green.

But despite Rast's successes last year, Frijns – who is replacing Ekstrom in the Audi set-up – does not believe it is sensible to expect to match that level of performance from the outset.

“Last year Rast became the rookie champion. That is, of course, what I would like to see, but it is not realistic,” Frijns said.

“I have to be realistic, there are a lot of guys who have years of experience, who have been driving in the DTM for more than 10 years.

“It is therefore not rational to expect yourself to be in front of them [from the beginning]. I'm realistic about myself, I'm not going to tell myself to take pole.

“I want to be competitive and take some points, and learn.”

Rast's title charge last year was aided by Audi's dominance, particularly after the removal of performance weights – and Frijns stressed that the Ingolstadt marque's “lead from last year has been somewhat lost due to changes in the regulations”.

However, he reckoned that the new rules meant his lack of DTM experience was less of a hindrance.

Frijns' words were echoed by Audi motorsport boss Dieter Gass, who told “Three titles [drivers', teams' and manufacturers'] last year for Audi and a rookie winning the championship rarely happens.

“You can't expect that from a rookie. DTM is tough and close, but it’s a good moment to step in.

“There have been significant changes in regulations with downforce. Experience is not that important so I think he [Frijns] can perform very well.”

While the expectations for the Dutchman's rookie season are tempered, Gass said Frijns' trophy cabinet – which includes first-year titles in two-litre Formula Renault, 3.5-litre Formula Renault and Blancpain GT – should mark him out as a future DTM championship contender.

“He’s won all of the championships that he seriously competed in,” Gass said. “Maybe not this year but I hope there’s an opportunity for the future.”

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