After a maiden WEC season, Fabio Scherer now fronts a debut IMSA Endurance Cup campaign featuring the Daytona 24 to commence the North American venture.
The following years are about to become the most radical in the history of sportscar racing, as fueled by the excitement for Hypercars.
Several global automotive manufacturers have affirmed their commitment to a Hypercar programme, whether it is in the FIA World Endurance Championship and/or the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Competing for a manufacturer on a globalular level requires the very best drivers from the discipline who are up for the rush of competition which will showcase the replacement for a demised LMP1 category.
Fabio Scherer from Switzerland tasted highs and lows during his first step on the discipline, from standing on the overall podium, to missing out on one at Le Mans after reliability issues hit the United Autosports team.
His new 2022 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship deal sees him as the endurance driver in the #20 High Class Racing LMP2 team.
Before the coveted opening round at Daytona, we spoke to him as he headed into a second year of LMP2 sportscar racing and a step closer to standing out for a future Le Mans Daytona Hypercar seat.
“It’s a lot of action there. It’s a bit old-school and [the circuits] are quite fun. There are a lot of cars on the track, so a lot of drama goes on,” he summarises the North American sportscar climate.
His experience is based in the LMP2 class, and he wanted to stick to that package in-line with his aspirations to reach the Hypercar class.
However, there are subtle yet crucial differences between IMSA’s Oreca 07 Gibson LMP2 and the one in the WEC, as Scherer explains.
“It’s different tyres. And the rules are a bit different. It’s less weight, more horsepower, and more aerodynamics, so the car is quite a bit quicker in the USA.
“But at the end, the basics stay the same.
“And even with cold tyres – there are no tyre warmers.
“So there are a lot of interesting factors in the US that can make it really difficult but really exciting as well.”
For the 24 Hours of Daytona, High Class Racing will be competing in a 10-car LMP2 field, including his former team United Autosports – which motivates him further to beat his competitors.
As per normal at such extensive endurance races, multiple drivers are involved with the task in-hand. Scherer will be joined by Audi LMDh driver Nico Mueller, and two team regulars, Anders Fjordbach and Dennis Andersen.
Track walk time for the 4 amigos @nico_mueller, @AFjordbach, Fabio & Dennis #highclassracing #imsa #endurance #rolex24 #daytona #daytona24 #hrx #skaarup #polarseafood #michelin #polartools #mascotworkwear #ceramicspeed pic.twitter.com/KhKOrAcqBS
— High Class Racing (@HighClassRacing) January 20, 2022
He has conducted several simulator runs of the LMP2 around Daytona International Speedway Road Course.
Already, he awaits the excitement and intensity of a 61-car field, comprised of five car categories, with comparison to his past WEC and Le Mans experience.
“I think it’s even a bit more stressful, because it’s more minimum drive-time per driver than in Europe.
“The last hour of the race is a flat-out race – a sprint race.
“And as it’s going to all decide in the last hour, so it will be a really tricky and difficult situation to the end of the race. And that’s what it makes it so intense, with the traffic.
“Daytona is less than half of the distance of Le Mans, it’s (the provisional entry list) just one car less [than Le Mans’].
“At every 70 Metres, there is a car (theoretically-speaking).”
Two-time DTM runner-up Mueller was more than a fellow compatriot to Scherer and looks forward to partnering up with him alongside the other two Danes.
“When I was a kid and still did karting – so 12 or 13 years old – I was about to win the Swiss championship title and he was like a scout, so it was the first time I met him.
“I looked up to him… And it was the target to reach him. And he was already close to signing a DTM deal. And then he was there, so I always followed him,” he remarks as he made his own DTM debut in 2020.
“It’s a good window for me to have him as a teammate, to show my performance and my pace, because he already has an LMDh contract.”
He talks about how important this year is for him, as he is “no longer the new guy” and has experienced various race lengths, plus day-night driving.
For Scherer, he is looking for a chance to work on himself as a leader who can extract strong pace out of the Oreca 07, and not just purely successful results.
It will first take shape at the ‘Roar Before the 24’ on Sunday 23 January which will have him compete in the qualifying race with Andersen.
“[Last year] I had just to drive and show my pace, and that was it.
“Now I have many more roles like with the setup in the car, leading the team. It’s different, but I like it. It’s what I missed last year massively.”
From his perspective, the Oreca 07 is a relatively straightforward machine to set up for the circuit. Furthermore, he differs it to the Audi RS5 DTM car he drove in 2020 which required further technical knowledge, but could be further tailored to the driver’s needs.
Of course, endurance racing almost always requires a car setup which suits all of its multiple drivers, which explains why the LMP2 is more simplistic to adjust – compared to the DTM car.
This year stands as a year of opportunity for Scherer, eager to gain more responsibility as a driver and towards all four of his Michelin Endurance Cup rounds.
His desire to become a team leader, more involved with the car setup, and assert his capabilities on-track are at a high with LMDh as the goal; though not as close as his ambition to win.
But first up for the 22-year-old is the 24 Hours of Daytona, his second 24-hour endurance race. So is winning on the cards?
“The chances are quite good, we have a really good lineup,” he says.
“I think we have good people in the team to make a solid car. And yeah, why not?
“My target is to win the race and I think it’s possible.
“For sure, it’s going to be difficult because it’s a 24-hour race, but it’s exciting and I’m really looking forward to it.”
The stage is set and the chase is on not only for an LMP2-class victory, but towards his future goal to race in a coveted Hypercar category.