Marcel Fassler is likely to reprise his third driver role with Corvette Racing in long-distance events in 2017, after the termination of the Audi LMP1 programme.
As part of a driver sharing agreement struck between Corvette and Audi, Fassler won the 2016 Daytona 24 and Sebring 12 Hours alongside Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner, and was on hand to help the team wrap up the IMSA GTLM title with third at Petit Le Mans.
Speaking to Racing.GT at the final round of the World Endurance Championship in Bahrain, where he finished second in Audi’s farewell appearance, Fassler confirmed that talks to continue with Corvette had already commenced before the announcement that Audi would bring their 18-year programme to an end.
There is also a possibility that the versatile Swiss could represent Corvette Racing at Le Mans for the first time since 2009, taking one of the third driver slots occupied this year by brothers Jordan and Ricky Taylor, who spent the latter half of the WEC season with the Larbre Competition squad in GTE-Am.
“There were already discussions before Audi committed to exit. Audi allowed me to drive with Corvette in these three races and I was always in touch with them for next year,” he said. “It’s about these long races where they need a third driver. Nothing is decided yet, but we are in discussion.”
Fassler’s three-race stint in IMSA marked a successful return to Corvette, having won the 2007 Spa 24 Hours in a Phoenix Carsport C6.R. He also took six FIA GT pole positions the following year and a pair of wins in Bucharest on his way to fourth in the championship.
Although he found the latest-generation C7.R a very different beast than the older C6 model, Fassler explained that like fellow Corvette loanee Mike Rockenfeller, his regular appearances in Audi’s GT3 customer racing programme had helped to keep his hand in and eased the acclimatisation process.
“It was definitely not similar to what I was used to – I have to say it was not easy to get adapted in this short time,” he admitted. “Especially Road Atlanta, we had no private sessions before, so I went straight into the weekend. To the regular drivers we were sometimes a bit off, Rocky and myself, but then we achieved a really good pace in the race.
“It was not easy, but I think it was always an advantage for me driving the R8 next to the LMP programme. I was always doing 24 Hours of Spa and Nürburgring with the R8, so I never actually left GT. Also I would always see the Corvette guys at Le Mans and say hi to them, so actually we were always a little bit in contact before I got the chance again to drive this year. But at the moment, the future is not 100% decided yet, I’m still working on that.”
Now 40, Fassler believes he still has plenty more to offer and is a much more rounded package after his seven-year spell with Audi in LMP1, which produced the inaugural World Endurance Drivers Championship in 2012 and outright victories at Le Mans in 2011, 2012 and 2014.
“For sure the experience I got in endurance racing is much higher now, also to know a little bit how much risk you have to take and when,” added Fassler, who first stepped into sportscar racing in 2006, after six years in the DTM with Mercedes and Opel.
“I think it’s the normal steps you gain year by year, you have to learn to work with other drivers much harder, much closer and I think that’s something which I learned with Audi. I improved a lot also in my technical understanding, because we were really involved in our programme with Audi and we learned a lot about these high technology cars.
“[The Audi and Corvette] are different cars, they cannot be more different, but each of them has something very special.”