mardi 14 mars 2017

Interview with Laurens Vanthoor - Porsche GT star in IMSA


After five great seasons with Audi Sport in GT3 racing, Laurens Vanthoor has switched to Porsche Motorsport and GTE racing this year.

The Belgian ace won everything possible with the Four Rings in Blancpain GT Series, as well overall victories at the Spa 24 Hours, the Nurburgring 24 Hours, the Dubai 24 Hours and the prestigious FIA World GT Cup title at Macau.

This year, Laurens Vanthoor is discovering a whole new series and a brand new car, the 911 RSR, with Porsche GT Team in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and its ultra competitive GTLM class.

We recently interviewed Laurens Vanthoor about his move to Porsche, the level of competition in IMSA GTLM and more.


A new continent, a new brand, a new series and new tracks, how challenging is to debut in North American sportscar racing?

It's quite a challenge, in the end everything is new. You basically start from zero and have to learn everything, proof yourself in the series, with the team.

Coming from an enviremont like WRT, where I knew everybody like my family and they believed in me through day and night. It's quite a job now, you start again from the bottom basically. Because no matter what your palmares says, you have to gain trust in the people and show what you are capable of doing on track and besides the track.

Plus add that it's a new car, new series, new tracks. It's not an easy job. But i knew this and I always said I will give myself this time without putting pressure on myself. It will come, and I know I still have quite some potential left to show.

But I'm very well received at Porsche and feel already at home, the relationship will only grow with time. This is completely normal. it took me 5 years to get to know my wife 100%.


You are sharing the #912 Porsche 911 RSR with Kevin Estre, how is the work split between the two of you during race weekends?

I love working with Kevin. I think we have a lot of respect for each other and we want to work together. I trust him 100% and I think/hope he does the same.

We want the same thing and we want to do it together so it's a very nice relationship. There is no unhealthy competition between ourselfes.

Many believe that GTLM in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is the pinnacle of GT racing, do you agreee with that?

It's still early for me to judge after one race but I have the impression the level is very high. Basically everybody is quick and within a couple of tenths of each other.

In the past in Blancpain [GT Series] you had very good drivers but also bigger differences (in PRO).

Here you could see in Daytona that everybody was soo close to each other. For sure it's the top level of GT racing and I even think in the IMSA series. Every driver is a factory driver for the ultimate brands, that says enough I think.


Porsche GT Team is also competing in the FIA World Endurance Championship, What do you think about the level of competition in GTE-Pro there?

I think the level of competition is comparable to IMSA. It's just a different type of series in my opinion. WEC is pure endurance, double stint tyres, FCY, F1 tracks,.. Weither IMSA has SC and brings the field together, old school hardcore tracks, hard racing.

I think the racing in IMSA is more pure. More ballsy maybe, I definitieve prefer it the IMSA way. That's why I wanted to go to USA.

You are a GTLM/GTE driver with Porsche but you still compete in selected GT3 events, how does it feel to race against Audi there?

It's quite funny. They are all obviously still very good friends and I still have a very good relationship with them.

In Bathurst I spoke to them often. I wasn't in a battle with them yet, I'm sure that would be exciting and funny! Can't wait actually.

Photos: Porsche