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Fassbender “Trying to Stay Relaxed” Ahead of Debut

Movie star speaks of Le Mans expectations ahead of his long-awaited maiden outing…

Photo: MPS Agency

Michael Fassbender says he’s trying to “settle the nerves” ahead of his debut in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which is the culmination of a multi-year journey for the Irish actor to compete in the French endurance classic.

Fassbender will be sharing a Proton Competition-run Porsche 911 RSR-19 with IMSA GTD champion Zach Robichon and Porsche factory driver Matt Campbell.

The actor has been working towards his Le Mans debut for a number of years, first racing in single-make Porsche Carrera Cup series before stepping up to the European Le Mans Series.

Fassbender’s two previous ELMS seasons were extensively documented by Porsche in its “Road to Le Mans” YouTube series.

Now with his Le Mans debut right around the corner, Fassbender says he’s trying to keep his nerves under control as best he can.

“I feel good,” Fassbender told Sportscar365. “I’m just trying to sort of stay as relaxed as possible, try and gain as much information as I can this week with the time I’ll be allocated on the track.

“We’ve got a world class driver, Matt Campbell, so I’ll be picking his brain and he’ll be guiding me through the week.

“Just taking it step by step and then to get ready for the race and Saturday and Sunday and just keep it clean and finish it.” 

Fassbender has some previous driving at the Circuit de la Sarthe, notably competing in a Carrera Cup race in 2020 and logging some laps as part of last year’s test day in a Dempsey-Proton Porsche.

“It was funny, at the end of the Carrera Cup race, I felt like I was ready to start the race,” Fassbender said recalling his previous race outing.

“It was raining very heavily in that particular race so it was really just about survival and understanding the track when it was wet.

“So that is definitely a good experience to have in the back pocket, just to get over that initial feeling of being on such an iconic track and breaking the ice somewhat.

“And then I got to do 10 laps last year in the test in an RSR.

“So that, again, is some information [and] hopefully, it’s fermented a little bit, and it will help me this week.” 

Fassbender, Robichon “Leaning On” Campbell

Fassbender and co-driver Robichon will both be making their Le Mans debuts, making them a relatively inexperienced pair of drivers in the GTE-Am field.

For contrast, their co-driver Campbell has four previous starts and took a class victory on debut in 2018.

Considering Campbell’s greater in-person knowledge of the Circuit de la Sarthe, Fassbender reckons he and Robichon will be looking towards the Australian for guidance.

“I think we both will,” said Fassbender. “Zach is obviously a fantastic driver as well and he can adapt very quickly to a new track.

“We’ve already done two races together and he’s just very professional. But both of us I think will be picking Matt’s brain.

“This is his fifth time here in Le Mans. He’s had great success here. So we’ll be leaning on him, I think. I certainly will.”

Campbell added: “I think Zach will do a fine job, for sure. Because you’ll be able to get up to speed quickly and the track is not difficult or anything like that.

“But Michael obviously we’ll need to work closely with and keep an eye on and and do as much with him as possible.

“Because obviously it’ll be a lot for him: new track and everything like that.

“So it’ll be tough but I have no doubts. We have lots of track time and we can also give him as much as possible as well.” 

“I don’t really need necessarily need that many laps here so we can try and sacrifice a little bit to get him up to speed and help him as much as possible, which I think would be key.”

Davey Euwema is a Sportscar365 reporter based in The Netherlands, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, DTM, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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