Following the demise of the Audi LMP1 program, Marcel Fäassler is set for a new challenge in the Blancpain GT Series this year, competing against his former teammate Benoît Tréluyer.
Fässler has joined Belgian Audi Club Team WRT for his first full Blancpain GT Series campaign, where he’ll share the No. 5 Audi R8 LMS with Dries Vanthoor, and with Will Stevens for Endurance Cup rounds only.
“It’s a new challenge for me. I know how tough this series is; there are a lot of good teams and lineups,” the three-time Le Mans winner told Sportscar365.
“You can’t just come in and easily be in the front, you have to do a perfect weekend to win a race. But that’s what I like about it, as a driver you have to give yourself 100 percent.”
Fässler said he’s glad he landed a drive in the series, but revealed he also got an offer from Toyota over the winter months.
“I was pretty happy to know that I got an offer from them to drive their third car at Le Mans,” he said. “Obviously I’m Audi contracted, so I could not do it. In the end it’s better to focus on one thing.”
The Swiss driver admitted he was surprised by the cancelation of the Audi LMP1 program.
“We didn’t see it coming,” he said. “We were all expecting Audi could pull the plug at the end of 2017, because there were supposed to be big rule changes ahead.”
Besides his deal with Corvette Racing to do major Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup races a third driver, it’s understood he will also race the C7.R at Le Mans later this year.
While Fässler didn’t confirm his Le Mans outing yet, he expressed his gratitude towards Audi for letting him compete with Corvette in the U.S.
“I’m really happy Audi is so open to that, it’s not a normal situation that official drivers can compete with other brands,” he said.
“Combining this Blancpain GT program with a couple of races with Corvette is very nice.”
Fässler is not only new to the series, but even more so to the format used in the Sprint Cup.
“I don’t remember the last time I did a 30-minute race,” he said. “This must be the first time I will do a race shorter than three hours ever since I was racing in GT Open.”
“It’s completely new for me. A little mistake will really hurt you a lot, as you don’t have six hours to recover from it.”
Former LMP1 teammate Benoit Tréluyer has followed Fässler to WRT, and both drivers will compete for the Belgian team in the Endurance Cup, but in different cars.
“I’m looking forward to fight Benoit on the race track. It will be good fun to know if he’s in front or behind me,” he said.
“Unfortunately André [Lotterer] is gone, so the three of us will have to find a way to meet each other next to the race track at some time.”
Even though he was immediately on the pace in Misano, Fässler is well aware that it will take some time to fully adapt to the Audi R8 LMS.
“These cars require a completely different driving style and that shows when you drive against Christopher Mies, Marcus Winkelhock, Christopher Haase…,” he admitted.
“They are the big pros on these cars. I try to get closer to them, step by step. They go out and immediately find the rhythm, which is something I still need to learn.”