at the end of 2020 season to focus on Formula E and customer racing, with the coronavirus pandemic also cited as one of the key reasons for its withdrawal.
This is the second time the Ingolstadt-based brand has pulled out of a major championship in recent years, following its departure from WEC’s LMP1 category after 2016.
Audi’s move has left its six factory DTM drivers, and likely three WRT privateers, without a seat, although they could be accommodated elsewhere in Audi’s motorsport portfolio.
Moreover, the decision could threaten the very existence of the DTM, as the series cannot survive with just a single manufacturer in BMW.
Rast, who has won two of the last three DTM titles with Audi, was informed about the manufacturer’s decision before the official announcement, but admitted that the news was still hard to digest.
"A day like today is the worst case scenario for an active racing driver," Rast said on his Twitch stream after the announcement. "But I will continue to do motorsport. I firmly believe in that. In what form, we'll see.
“It wasn't a surprise for us. Of course there have been many discussions, rumours, and [with] the corona crisis it was foreseeable that something like this could happen. But even though you already knew it, now that it has happened it is a bit harder.
“I still remember when I got a call in the morning of my birthday in 2016 that the LMP1 project [which Rast was a part of via its third Le Mans 24 Hours entry] was going to end."
René Rast, Audi Sport Team Rosberg, Audi RS 5 DTM