Istanbul: Swiss Spirit preview

SWISS SPIRIT PREPARES FOR LE MANS SERIES DEBUT IN ISTANBUL The brand new Swiss Spirit racing team, which has recently received confirmation of its entry into this year's Le Mans 24 Hours, arrives in Istanbul this week to make its...

SWISS SPIRIT PREPARES FOR LE MANS SERIES DEBUT IN ISTANBUL

The brand new Swiss Spirit racing team, which has recently received confirmation of its entry into this year's Le Mans 24 Hours, arrives in Istanbul this week to make its debut appearance in the Le Mans Series.

The Le Mans Series consists of five, 1000km endurance races and Swiss Spirit boss, Serge Saulnier, explains why the opening round in Turkey will require a very specific approach by the team:

"Our preferred strategy, like many of the teams, will be very much to treat this first race as a test session. We have a brand new chassis, a new engine and a new team, and it is important that we concentrate on completing as many laps as possible in order to continue our development for Le Mans which, at the end of the day, has to be the primary focus. We are all racers with a competitive nature, but I will be stressing to my team -- especially to our drivers -- that they must not get too carried away with thoughts of being fastest every single lap. We have a 24 hour race coming up and what counts is reliability."

The team's two Swiss drivers, Harold Primat and Marcel Fassler are only too aware of their boss' ideas on strategy.

Marcel Fassler said: "Serge is a consummate professional and we will drive exactly as he asks because we all realise that running at the front does not matter if you are not there at the chequered flag. The car is inherently very good though and I would like to think that we will still display a very respectable pace. I have experience of this circuit from last year and it's definitely somewhere I enjoy, although I just hope that we don't have quite so much rain this time!"

The very new 'Istanbul Otodrom', which hosted its country's first ever Formula 1 Grand Prix last year, is a notoriously challenging yet rewarding circuit for the drivers, as Harold Primat confirms: "It's all about Turn 8! It really is one of the most fantastic corners in the world and illustrates what the Istanbul circuit is all about. You arrive at high speed on the crest of a hill and turn in flat-out in 5th gear to start this seemingly never-ending left hand corner. The car starts to fight as the corner tightens slightly around the second of four apexes and you have to force yourself not to lift or you'll destroy your mid-corner speed. Half way round, the corner tightens just a little more -- the front tyres cry "enough" and start to understeer while your neck screams with the lateral G. Suddenly you can see the end of the corner and you hope that you have not carried too much speed to stay on the road through the exit. The whole way round you're walking this tight-rope between immensely high speeds and the grip available. It's quite unbelievable."

The event in Istanbul kicks off on Friday 7th April with free practice; followed by the qualifying sessions on Saturday 8th; and the race itself on Sunday 9th, beginning at 10:30 local time.

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About this article
Series European Le Mans
Drivers Marcel Fassler , Harold Primat , Serge Saulnier