Audi has confirmed that René Rast, Mike Rockenfeller, Loïc Duval and Benoît Tréluyer will compete for the brand in the joint DTM and Japanese Super GT Championship race at the Fuji Speedway in November.
The marque has opted to select two DTM champions (Rast, 2017 and 2019 and Rockenfeller, 2013) as well as two Japan experts (Duval and Tréluyer) for the race on the 23 – 24 November.
The Ingolstadt manufacturer is sending four cars to the end-of-season event, whilst rival BMW is sending just three.
Not all of Audi’s current DTM drivers are able to make it to the event, with Nico Müller and Robin Frijns unavailable due to clashing commitments in the FIA Formula E championship.
It means that Jamie Green was the only factory Audi driver available but overlooked for the event, with WRT customer racing drivers Jonathan Aberdein and Pietro Fittipaldi also missing out.
WRT will still be represented though, as Tréluyer competes for the Belgian team with support from Audi Japan and Hitotsuyama Racing.
“Obviously, we’d have preferred taking all of our drivers with us to Japan,” said Head of Audi Motorsport Dieter Gass. “However, because of the concurrent Formula E season opener alone this wasn’t possible.
“I’m delighted that all three Audi Sport Teams will be on the grid at Fuji and that our customer team WRT also managed to carry out the commitment in Japan.”
Rast will be run by Audi Sport Team Rosberg for the event, with the two-time DTM champion having been keen to take part in the historic race.
“I’ve never been to Japan and am excited to see what’s awaiting us – that’ll no doubt be a cool event,” said Rast. “The track at Fuji has a brutally long straight. Especially in the last section, it’s very technical.
“All of the cornering radii are very long. That’s going to be interesting, especially in terms of tire wear.”
Rockenfeller will be entered by Team Abt Sportsline, switching from his usual stable at Phoenix Racing, where he has raced for the past eight years, with the exception of the 2016 DTM finale when he was run by Abt Sportsline. The German previously raced with Abt in 2011 when he took his first win.
“I know many mechanics and engineers of the team really well,” said Rockenfeller. “I’m generally looking forward to racing in Japan. I’ve never done that before in my career.
“I’ve heard a lot of good things about the country, the racing series and the fan culture there.”
Duval has extensive experience of racing in Japan, having spent seven years of his career competing in the country, including living in Tokyo.
“I had a fantastic time there and am looking forward to racing in Japan again,” said Duval, the 2010 Super GT Champion. “I’m excited about the chance of familiarizing ‘Rocky’ and the others a little with the culture and the racing there.
“It’ll also be great to meet my fans from the Super GT and the Super Formula again.
“I’m sure that many people will turn out to see the DTM cars and us drivers. I’m just hoping for the weather to be on our side – that’s a small risk factor at Fuji in November.”
Tréluyer is new to the DTM but experienced in Japan, having won the Formula Nippon title in 2006 and, like compatriot Duval, the Super GT title in 2008.
“The race at Fuji makes a dream come true for me,” said the Le Mans 24 Hours winner. “It combines two elements to which I owe the biggest successes in my career: Japan and Audi.
“Obviously, after three years with only a few races, it won’t be easy for me. But I’m going to give my best and hope that I won’t disappoint WRT, Audi and my Japanese fans.”