Fassler turned down Toyota LMP1 Le Mans chance

Former Audi LMP1 driver Marcel Fassler has revealed he turned down an offer to contest this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours for Toyota.

Fassler was one of four Audi drivers to be left without a full-time FIA World Endurance Championship seat when the German manufacturer announced its withdrawal from the LMP1 class last year.

The Swiss driver remains affiliated to Audi, and will contest both the Blancpain Sprint and Endurance series this season in a WRT-run Audi R8 LMS.

However, the three-time Le Mans winner has revealed he had been given the chance to fight for a fourth outright win at La Sarthe by Toyota, which on Tuesday confirmed Nicolas Lapierre and Yuji Kunimoto as the final drivers on its roster for the endurance classic.

“It was a tempting offer, but we found no agreement,” Fassler told Motorsport.com. “In any case, I’m very glad I got this call.

“It would have been fantastic, but racing for both Audi and Toyota was not possible. However, I want to state that I’m thrilled to race in GT3 this season, and I didn’t move heaven and earth to compete in Le Mans.”

While former Audi teammates Andre Lotterer and Oliver Jarvis were able to secure WEC seats for 2017 with Porsche and DC Racing respectively, Fassler stressed he was content with his Blancpain programme.

He will partner Dries Vanthoor in the Sprint championship, which kicks off this weekend at Misano, with Will Stevens joining the pair for the Endurance series.

“I’m happy with my programme and the number of races I will take part in,” Fassler continued. “I’m currently planning on racing on 16 weekends this season, almost twice as many as in 2016.

“Although GT3 cars are less sophisticated and slower than LMP1s, the level of the drivers is very high.”

Interview by Peter Wyss