The actor Michael Fassbender, identified for movies corresponding to “X-Men,” “Inglourious Basterds” and “12 Years a Slave,” has additionally been carving out a profession as a racecar driver with the purpose of reaching the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Fassbender, a two-time Academy Award nominee, will notice that dream by lining up on the grid at Le Mans this weekend, racing a Porsche 911 RSR -19.
Fassbender will race for the Proton Competition staff within the GTE-Am class, designed for grand tourer vehicles that embrace a minimum of one beginner of their lineup. That will probably be Fassbender, who will share driving duties with Zacharie Robichon of Canada and the Porsche manufacturing facility driver Matt Campbell of Australia.
Fassbender, who couldn’t be reached for remark, mentioned in a Porsche information launch in 2020 that racing was his “first dream,” even earlier than appearing, and that his purpose was to achieve Le Mans. “It was always very clear to me from a young age,” he mentioned. “I always felt an affinity with cars, I felt a connection with driving and speed.”
Fassbender has been constructing his racing expertise with Porsche, which has pushed him in the direction of his Le Mans purpose. He raced in a Porsche championship in Germany earlier than stepping as much as the European Le Mans Series in 2020, in addition to racing in two Porsche Supercup races.
Proton Competition completed fourth in final yr’s championship, with Fassbender scoring his first podium by ending second within the 4 Hours of Portimão in Portugal. Further success adopted earlier this yr in France, the place he scored third place at Le Castellet to depart him solely 5 factors off the lead of the championship after two races.
Fassbender isn’t the primary Hollywood star with goals of racing at Le Mans. Steve McQueen tried to enter the race in 1970 whereas filming “Le Mans,” whereas in 1979, Paul Newman completed second total in a Porsche 935. Patrick Dempsey first raced at Le Mans in 2009 and completed second within the GTE-Am class in 2015. He stays an proprietor of the Dempsey-Proton Racing staff that could be a common fixture at Le Mans.
Dempsey performed an necessary function in Fassbender’s path to Le Mans after an opportunity assembly on a flight from London to Los Angeles. “I was following motorsports, and I was congratulating him on a good result at the 24 Hours of Le Mans,” Fassbender mentioned within the information launch. “We just started talking about getting into racing, and then he made the contact to Porsche Motorsport.”
Pierre Fillon, the president of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest that organizes Le Mans, mentioned the race “has always had special ties with the movie world.”
“Michael Fassbender has decided to take up the challenge, and I’m impressed by how he has gone about it, taking each step as it comes in preparation for Le Mans,” Fillon mentioned. “He is approaching the race with tremendous determination, and I expect he’ll put in a great performance.”
Fassbender’s earlier races have by no means been longer than 4 hours, making a 24-hour race a giant step up. Mike Conway, one of the drivers who gained Le Mans final yr for Toyota, mentioned the race was onerous and “a slog” that may make you “hate it if things are not going your way.”
“But it’s definitely a really special one,” Conway added. “You don’t realize the history until you’re there in the moment, especially at the start of the race when you’ve got all the teams lined up and the national anthems play, and you realize this is really big.”
Luis Felipe Derani of Brazil has raced at Le Mans six instances. His recommendation to Fassbender was to “save your energy.”
“It’s very easy to get overwhelmed and sucked into how big the event is,” Derani mentioned, “and by the time you start the race, all your energies are gone, and you still have 24 hours of hard racing to do.
“Save your energy and save your body, because you’re going to need it, and that is going to make a huge difference in the final result.”