RACING

Michael Fassbender’s running journey

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Actor Michael Fassbender, known for films such as ‘X-Men’, ‘Inglourious Basterds’ and ’12 Years a Slave’, has also carved out a career as a racing driver with the aim of reaching the 24 Hours. from the Mans. .

Two-time Oscar nominee Fassbender will make that dream come true by lining up on the grid at Le Mans this weekend, driving a Porsche 911 RSR -19.

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Fassbender will race for the Proton Competition team in the GTE-Am class, designed for grand touring cars that include at least one enthusiast in their lineup. It will be Fassbender, who will share driving duties with Zacharie Robichon from Canada and Porsche works driver Matt Campbell from Australia.

Fassbender, who could not be reached for comment, said in a Porsche press release in 2020 that the race was his “first dream”, before he even acted, and that his goal was to reach Le Mans. . “It was always very clear to me from a very young age,” he said. “I always felt an affinity with cars, I felt a connection with driving and speed.”

Fassbender built his racing experience with Porsche which pushed him towards his goal at Le Mans. He raced in a Porsche Championship in Germany before moving to the European Le Mans Series in 2020, as well as taking part in two Porsche Supercup races.

Proton Competition finished fourth in the championship last year, with Fassbender claiming his first podium by finishing second in the 4 Hours of Portimão in Portugal. Further success followed earlier this year in France, where he scored third at Le Castellet to leave him just five points off the championship lead after two races.

Fassbender is not the first Hollywood star to dream of racing at Le Mans. Steve McQueen attempted to enter the race in 1970 while filming “Le Mans”, while in 1979 Paul Newman finished second overall in a Porsche 935. Patrick Dempsey raced at Le Mans for the first time in 2009 and finished second in the GTE-Am class in 2015. He remains the owner of the Dempsey-Proton Racing team which is a regular at Le Mans.

Dempsey played an important role in Fassbender’s journey to Le Mans after a chance meeting on a London-Los Angeles flight. “I followed motorsport and congratulated him on his good result at the 24 Hours of Le Mans,” Fassbender said in the statement. “We just started talking about getting into racing and then he got in touch with Porsche Motorsport.

Pierre Fillon, president of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest which organizes Le Mans, said the race “has always had special links with the world of cinema”.

“Michael Fassbender decided to take up the challenge, and I’m impressed with how he went about it, taking each step as he prepared for Le Mans,” Fillon said. “He approaches the race with incredible determination, and I expect him to put in a great performance.”

Fassbender’s previous races have never lasted longer than four hours, making a 24-hour race a big step up. Mike Conway, one of the drivers who won Le Mans last year for Toyota, said the race was tough and “a chore” that can make you “hate if things don’t go your way”.

“But it’s really special,” Conway added. “You don’t realize history until you’re there in the moment, especially at the start of the race when all the teams are lined up and the national anthems are playing, and you realize that’s really important.”

Brazil’s Luis Felipe Derani has raced at Le Mans six times. His advice to Fassbender was to “save your energy”.

“It’s very easy to get overwhelmed and sucked in by the sheer scale of the event,” Derani said, “and by the time you start the race all your energies are drained and you still have 24 hours of tough racing ahead of you. TO DO.

“Save your energy and save your body, because you’re going to need it, and it’s going to make a huge difference in the end result.”

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