The waiting is over for Marcel Fassler. This weekend’s Roar Before the Rolex 24 was the first opportunity for the three-time Le Mans winner to drive the revolutionary mid-engine Corvette Stingray C8.8 — either in a test or even on a simulator — and he likes what he’s found.
“I heard really good things beforehand, so I was really looking forward to my very first drive,” said Fassler. “I finally got my first chance on Friday, and I am more than positively surprised how good and how much fun it is to drive. It’s difficult to compare both cars, because they are completely different in how they were built and set up, but this is a big step forward. I’ve enjoyed every lap in this car around the track.”
Fassler won GTLM honors as part of a 1-2 outing for Corvette Racing in his Rolex 24 debut in 2016, with his car prevailing by 0.034s in the closest class finish in event history. The 43-year-old Swiss driver enjoyed the changing conditions at the Roar — which have ranging from a warm Friday to a wet Saturday to a sunny but chilly Sunday — as he tested the silver No. 4 Stingray with Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin.
“The weather this weekend is the best we could have,” Fassler said. “Now we know hot conditions, we know wet conditions and today we’ll work with colder conditions. Experience shows that everything can happen at Daytona. It can be super warm or freezing cold, or a lot of rain like last year.”
Antonio Garcia, who shares the traditional yellow No. 3 Corvette with Jordan Taylor and Nicky Catsburg, was also pleased with the progress of the C8.R.
“It’s going the right way,” said Garcia, a two-time Rolex 24 winner. “We’ve got to gather as much data as possible to prepare for the first race of the season — the first race for the actual car. It’s going to be very difficult for us, because we don’t know how the car is going to behave, with a lot of unknowns. I think we’re as prepared as we can be, and we are using this test to be even more prepared. So far, it’s going well. But in racing, you never know. We’re probably the best team out there to get with a new car, and so far it looks good and drives good. I can’t wait until the start of the race.”
Corvette Racing Program Manager Doug Fehan shares the optimism of his drivers.
“Everything operationally has worked out well,” Fehan said. “The cars are performing well. We haven’t had any major issues in durability and reliability — things we are looking for here. Every day we come out we write another page in setup and learning about the chassis and aero on the car. So every lap’s an important lap.”