Istanbul: Swiss Spirit race report

PRIMAT AND FASSLER SHOW SWISS SPIRIT PACE IN ISTANBUL The brand new Swiss Spirit racing team had a frustrating, yet promising, race debut in Istanbul yesterday, retiring after a collision in the early stages having charged through the field...

PRIMAT AND FASSLER SHOW SWISS SPIRIT PACE IN ISTANBUL

The brand new Swiss Spirit racing team had a frustrating, yet promising, race debut in Istanbul yesterday, retiring after a collision in the early stages having charged through the field from a sixth place qualifying position to lead the pack up to the first round of pit-stops.

30-year old Swiss driver, Harold Primat, took on the start and impressed all during his opening stint with his pace in the slippery conditions and spectacular overtaking manoeuvres on the leading Pescarolo and Creation cars.

Ultimately though, he was to undo his own hard work when a misunderstanding with a backmarker resulted in heavy contact between the two cars and enough damage to the Swiss Spirit entry to force an early retirement.

"What happened in the race is partly my own fault," said a bitterly disappointed Harold after the race, "and I am sorry for Marcel and the team that we had to take an early bath. After a cautious start I soon found a great rhythm and had the car and tyres working fantastically for me. As the track started to dry, I was able to lap sometimes up to two or three seconds faster than anyone else. Soon I was up with the leaders and managed to overtake both the Pescarolo and the Creation car at the same time into the same corner - it was great! Everything was working well - the car was fantastic, I was holding it together and I soon started to pull out a lead.

"After the pit-stops though I began to struggle. Like everyone else we had changed to slick tyres, but the circuit was still greasy - especially off-line which makes it very tricky to pass. I got held up by a very unhelpful Aston GT1 car who ignored waved blue flags for three laps. Eventually I had to go offline to pass him and, as I tried to outbrake him on the inside, I lost grip -- he gave no room and we collided, simple as that. It is a real shame because we had the pace to score a strong result and a small mistake in the early stages of the race cost the team a great result."

A bizarre situation with a restricted fuel supply at the circuit forced organisers to cut the length of the race from six to four hours and this had a significant impact on Swiss Spirit Team boss Serge Saulnier's reaction to his car's damage:

"We could have fixed the car and rejoined the race," said Serge, "but with the reduction in length, there was no point so the race was over for us. It's a shame because we could have done with the extra mileage. Still, a second place was on the cards today and for the team to have the pace to run at the front like that in our first event is very encouraging. Sure I'm disappointed about the retirement, but we've seen enough to be very positive about the next few months."

Team mate Marcel Fassler said at the end of the weekend: "For sure the race was shorter for me than originally anticipated but I feel very positive about our general pace after this weekend. These cars are very different to DTM - about 8 seconds a lap faster, with a lot more down force, especially in the famous Turn 8 where you can really feel it on the neck. I'm confident we have the ingredients to get the job done at the next race."

The team will now prepare for a 24 hour Le Mans simulation test at Magny-Cours on 2/3 May and move on to Spa for round two of the series on May 10th.

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