Although Switzerland has no organized circuit racing competitions (that kind of racing was banned since the Le Mans tragedy in 1955), that European country had and still has some world famous racers and champions. Marcel Fässler is definitely one of them and we would not be making a mistake if we were to say that he is the most successful Swiss racing driver ever.
His results speak for itself – Fassler is the 2012 World Endurance champion and three-time Le Mans 24 hours winner (2011, 2012 and 2014). Prior to that, he was a successful touring car and GT driver, competing for six seasons in the DTM and winning the 2009 International GT Open series.
Fässler started a career in the French Formula Renault
Marcel Fassler was born on May 27th, 1976, in Einsiedeln, Switzerland. He started to race in France, entering the Formula Renault Campus in 1995. He finished third in the points in his debut season. He was again third in the 1996 French Formula Renault championship.
In the next three seasons, he competed in the Formula 3, progressing from 11th place in the 1997 French Formula 3 to the second place in the 1999 German Formula 3. Marcel won four out of 18 races and the only who was better than him was Christijan Albers.
Fassler moved to DTM in 2000
The major switch of the racing discipline followed in 2000 when Fassler joined Mercedes and HWA Team to compete in the DTM. In his debut season, driving the #6 Mercedes-Benz CLK, Fassler scored four podiums (three at Nürburgring) to finish fourth in the points.
In 2001, Marcel again finished fourth in the final classification, but this time, he managed to win two races, both qualifying and main race at Oschersleben. In 2002, again driving the #6 HWA Mercedes CLK, Fässler finished fourth in the standings for the third year in a row. He won the main race at A1 Ring and qualifying race at Zandvoort.
Third place in 2003 as the best DTM result
The best Fassler's DTM season followed in 2003. He was driving the #9 all-new CLK to one victory (A1 Ring) and four podiums, finishing the season in the third place, behind Bernd Schneider and Christijan Albers.
In 2004, Fässler moved to Team Phoenix, which ran Opel Vectra GTS. In eleven races Fässler's best result was the fourth place at Nürburgring and Brno, so he finished 9th in the points. The season 2005, in the Team Holzer's Opel Vectra, was even worst, as his best finish was a fifth place and he was classified 12th in the final standings.
Marcel had the Le Mans debut in 2006
In 2006, Opel left the DTM and Marcel joined the Swiss Spirit team to compete in the Le Mans Series with LMP1 prototype Courage LC70 (Judd). In five races he scored two podiums and finished fifth in the standings. At Le Mans debut, partnering compatriot Harold Primat and Austrian Philipp Peter, Fässler didn't reach the finish as the crew retired after 132 laps.
During the season Fässler joined Phoenix Racing at 24 hours of Spa, taking second place in the Aston Martin DBR9. Between two season 2006 and 2007, Fässler returned to single-seater racing at two races of the A1 Grand Prix series, driving for Team Switzerland in New Zealand and Mexico.
24 hours of Spa victory in 2007
In 2007, Fassler had no full-season arrangement. He returned at Le Mans with the Swiss Spirit team, alongside Jean-Denis Deletraz and Iradj Alexander. This time their race lasted even shorter than the year before, just 62 laps.
Fassler was much more successful at another 24-hour race, the Spa-Francorchamps. He competed and won with Carsport Holland's Chevrolet Corvette, alongside Jean-Denis Deletraz, Mike Hezemans and Fabrizio Gollin.
Diverse racing program in 2008
In 2008, Fassler had a diverse program of races with GT cars and prototypes. In the FIA GT Championship, he was competing with Phoenix Carsport Racing's Corvette. With one victory and four podiums in 10 races, he finished fourth in the standings.
In the International GT Open series, Fässler joined Trottet Racing and won three out of seven races with Ferrari 430 GT2, to finish fifth in the classification. He also participated in two races of the French GT Championship, winning one race with Selleslagh's Corvette.
International GT Open champion in 2009
In the prototype racing, Fassler joined Audi for the first time, competing with Audi R10 TDI in two rounds of the American Le Mans Series. At Le Mans 24-hour race, Fässler participated for the third time and retired the third time. He was a part of the Team Oreca-Matmut, together with Olivier Panis and Simon Pagenaud.
In 2009, Fässler continued to race with Trottet Racing team in the International GT Open and he won the title. His Ferrari 430 GTC, which he shared with another Swiss driver Joël Camathias, was victorious at six out of 16 races.
Fourth consecutive retirement at Le Mans race
Fässler was also racing in the GT class of the 2009 American Le Mans Series, driving for the Corvette Racing team. He finished second in the class at 12 hours of Sebring. At 24 hours of Le Mans, Fässler recorded his fourth consecutive retirement. He was sharing the Corvette with Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta. At 24 hours of Spa, Fässler joined Phoenix Racing and finished third overall in the Audi R8 LMS.
In the prototype racing, he joined Speedy Racing Team Sebah in the five races of the Le Mans Series, driving the Aston Martin-powered Lola B08/60. His best result was second place at Silverstone 1000-km race. His teammates were Andrea Belicchi and Nicolas Prost.
The fantastic trio: Fässler - Lotterer - Treluyer
The new chapter in Fässler's career was opened in 2010 when he joined Audi Sport Team Joest. He was paired to Andre Lotterer and Benoit Tréluyer. In the following years, the trio became one of the best ever crews in a history of endurance racing, taking three Le Mans victories and one world championship title. The trio is still active, so the future results could be even better.
Fifth attempt and first podium at Le Mans
With new racing partners, Fässler finally reached the finish line at 2010 Le Mans race, in his fifth attempt, and grabbed the podium. They finished second overall in the #8 Audi R15 TDI plus, behind the sister #9 car driven by Mike Rockenfeller, Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas.
In the rest of the season with Audi, Fässler participated in just one race of the American Le Mans Series, finishing sixth overall at Petit Le Mans, and one race of the Le Mans Series, finishing 12th at 1000 km of Spa. At 24 hours of Spa, Fässler joined Phoenix Racing in the #50 Audi R8 LMS but did not finish the race. Fässler reached the podium with third place at the non-championship GT race 10 hours of Zolder, sharing the W Racing Team's Audi R8 LMS with Anthony Kumpen and Gregory Franchi.
Maiden Le Mans victory in front of two Peugeot cars
The diverse program with Audis, both prototypes and GT cars, continued in 2011. The highlight of the season was the 24 hours of Le Mans in June. After starting from pole in the #2 Audi R18 TDI, the trio Tréluyer/Lotterer/ Fässler scored their first Le Mans victory, in front of four Peugeot 908s.
Another victory for Fässler in the endurance racing happened at the 24 hours of Nürburgring. He was driving Audi Sport Team Phoenix Audi R8 LMS alongside Marc Basseng, Mike Rockenfeller, Frank Stippler and they won the SP9 GT3 class, finishing third overall.
For the rest of the season, Fässler competed in the three different competitions with Audi LMP1 prototype and in the Blancpain Endurance Series with GT3 car. His best result was second place at 6 hours of Silverstone.
Back-to-back Le Mans victory and championship title in 2012
The season 2012 was even more successful than 2011 because Fässler, Tréluyer and Lotterer repeated the Le Mans victory but also added the World Endurance Championship title. The back-to-back victory at Le Mans was taken in the #1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro, ahead of two more Audi prototypes. Apart from the Le Mans victory, the #1 crew was successful at the Silverstone and Bahrain, and that helped them take the world's title in the revived FIA World Endurance Championship.
In 2012, Fässler did not miss 24-hour races at Spa and Nürburgring. In Belgium, he finished fifth in the Team Phoenix Audi R8 LMS, together with Tom Kristensen and Andre Lotterer. At the famous Nordschleife circuit, he was also fifth in the Phoenix Audi that he shared with Rene Rast, Frank Stippler and Christopher Mies.
Four wins in 2013 and a fifth place at Le Mans
The season 2013 was marked by two fifth-place finishes in two endurance races. At 24 hours of Le Mans, the #1 Audi of defending world champions finished fifth behind two sister cars and two Toyotas. At 24 hours of Nürburgring Fässler again competed with Phoenix Audi and finished fifth. He shared the car with Mike Rockenfeller, Frank Stippler and Markus Winkelhock.
Although he was only fifth at Le Mans, the season was very successful for Fässler. He won three World Championship races (Spa, Sao Paulo and Shanghai), to finish second in points and added another victory at 12 hours of Sebring.
Third Le Mans victory with Audi in 2014
In 2014, the third victory at Le Mans came. Marcel Fässler, Benoît Treluyer and Andre Lotterer won with three laps advantage ahead of another Audi crew and five laps ahead of Toyota. The #8 Toyota crew won the championship title, Fässler and his teammates were in the second place again. Except Le Mans, they won one more WEC race at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin.
In the GT Racing, Fässler did not achieve any notable result during 2014. At Spa 24-hour race he finished 12th, and at the Nürburgring his crew retired.
The end of a story about amazing trio
A great WEC season followed in 2015, with podiums in all eight races of the World Endurance Championship, including two victories at Silverstone and Spa. But it just was not enough. The title went to Porsche. The victory at Le Mans was also taken by Porsche, as Fässler and his teammates finished third.
The 2016 FIA WEC season, the seventh consecutive season for the amazing trio Fässler/Tréluyer/Lotterer, was the last one for them, because Audi withdrew from the championship at the end of the year. Without wins, they finished 5th in the points.
Class victory at 2016 Daytona 24 Hours
The greatest result of the season was a victory at 24 hours of Daytona. Fassler was driving for Corvette Racing, claiming a victory in the GTLM class, together with Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner.
In 2017, following Audi's withdrawal from the WEC, Marcel stayed connected with Audi but in another competition, contesting in the Blancpain GT Series for Belgian Audi Club Team WRT.