Swiss Spirit launched in Geneva

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'SWISS SPIRIT' UNVEIL NEW LE MANS CAR AND CONFIRM DRIVERS FASSLER AND PRIMAT FOR ALL-SWISS CHALLENGE The Geneva Motorshow today saw the unveiling of 'Swiss Spirit', the new Swiss challenge for glory in the famous Le Mans 24 Hours endurance ...

'SWISS SPIRIT' UNVEIL NEW LE MANS CAR AND CONFIRM DRIVERS FASSLER AND PRIMAT FOR ALL-SWISS CHALLENGE

The Geneva Motorshow today saw the unveiling of 'Swiss Spirit', the new Swiss challenge for glory in the famous Le Mans 24 Hours endurance race.

Swiss Spirit team launch: Harold Primat, Serge Saulnier and Marcel Fassler.
Photo by Swiss Spirit Team.
The Swiss team presented their brand new racing car - a Courage LMP1 C70, prototype powered by a 5-litre, V-10, Judd engine and mounted on Michelin tyres - on the stand of the Revue Automobile magazine, celebrating its 100th anniversary at the show.

'Swiss Spirit' also confirmed their all-Swiss driver line-up, consisting of DTM refugee Marcel Fassler and sportscar driver Harold Primat.

The team presented its schedule for the year which includes a full assault on the 2006 Le Mans Series (five 1000 km races in Turkey, Belgium, Germany, England and Italy) and of course, the jewel in the crown: the Le Mans 24 Hours (subject to invitation from the organisers -- to be confirmed around the 22nd March).

Several Swiss drivers have finished on the podium at Le Mans during its 73 year history, but never once has a Swiss driver stood on the very top step. Enter: 'Swiss Spirit' racing team - created to put this right!

The ultra-professional outfit have embarked on a focused, three-year program dedicated to taking on the world's best sportscar racing teams and beating them at 'Le Mans' -- venue for the most famous endurance motor race in the world.

Serge Saulnier, Swiss Spirit Team Manager said: "Today is a great moment for me and for Switzerland. This program is a new start for our organisation as we move away from single-seater formulae towards prototypes and endurance racing. I've been keen to make the move from many years but only with all the key requirements for a highly professional and competitive programme, which I am delighted to say we now have. If we can get an entry for the Le Mans 24 Hours, it will be the achievement of a life-long dream.

"Although I made my name as a Team Manager in single-seater racing over the years, we have been involved in endurance racing via the "V de V" championship. You cannot compare this with racing an LMP1 prototype in the Le Mans Series, but this experience will still be very valuable as we have learnt important lessons - especially regarding the strategy and the approach to races.

Swiss Spirit team launch: Harold Primat, Serge Saulnier and Marcel Fassler with the Courage LMP1 C70.
Photo by Swiss Spirit Team.
"In terms of our package, we have decided to go with Courage for the chassis because we believe they offer the best all-round 'package' - for an LMP1 car, for Le Mans and for the five Le Mans series races. On the engine side, we have decided to go with Judd as they are the benchmark for performance and reliability and these two factors are of course key to any endurance event. Last but certainly not least, I am delighted to continue my long partnership with Michelin who provide us with the very best tyres for endurance racing.

"As for the drivers, we are lucky to have Harold Primat and Marcel Fassler. I have been working with Harold since 2003, we know each other well and we have a great complicity. Harold is a fast and reliable driver and he has absolutely the right profile for an endurance racer. Marcel Fassler is one of the fastest Swiss drivers around and has always been at the top of my list. I am a great admirer of his, both in terms of his driving talent and of his approach - he is quiet, professional and has exceptional attention to detail. Although he has never raced at Le Mans, his experience from six years competing at the highest level in the DTM with Mercedes and Opel will be invaluable. I'm expecting a great season from both our drivers."

A proud Harold Primat said: "Since I moved from single-seaters at the end of 2004, my objective has been to race competitively in endurance racing and compete in all the major events. To race at Le Mans in an LMP1 car and carry the Swiss flag is fantastic for me and I'm really looking forward to it. Serge and I have been working on this programme for a while and I am very proud that it has come to fruition. We have a great team, an excellent chassis/engine/tyre combination and in Marcel I have a great team mate. So I am thrilled and can't wait for the season to start."

A delighted Marcel Fassler said: "To join 'Swiss Spirit' is a great opportunity for me and I would like to thank Serge and the team for their confidence. I am very proud of carrying the flag for my country and I will do everything I can to bring home good results. This is a new start for me following my six years of racing in DTM with Mercedes and Opel and I think that we are going to have a great time. It is too early to make any predictions but we have a good technical package and I am convinced that we can have a good race at Le Mans -- if we receive an entry! The aim is to finish in the top-five, which would be a major result for our first year.

"When I saw the new LMP1 Courage for the first time on Monday afternoon, I was blown away - it looks stunning! If we get to race it at Le Mans it'll be the realisation of a dream I have had since I actually lived there from '95-'98 whilst racing at the Elf La Filiere school. So, while I don't know the track very well, it's fair to say that my road-car has done more than a few laps! I'm not a complete 24-hour race virgin either -- I once did the Nurburgring 24 Hours for Opel in 2004 with a DTM Astra!"

The 'Swiss Spirit' LMP1 car will be on display on the Automobile Revue stand during the entire Geneva Motorshow. The team is planning its first proper testing session at the end of March and will then head to Istanbul for the first round of the 2006 Le Mans Series on April 9th.

-sr-

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Series LEMANS , ELMS