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VANTHOOR: A Busy Start to the Year

Porsche factory driver Laurens Vanthoor files his first Sportscar365 column following a busy start to his year…

Photo: Porsche

Hi, I’m Laurens Vanthoor. I am in my second year as a Porsche factory driver. This year I return to the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR with Earl Bamber in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

I’ll be writing a column this season for Sportscar365 and I hope to tell you about the things you don’t see on TV or read in the press releases.

I’ve been quite busy the past month with Daytona, Bathurst and Porsche fitness camp.

I think a highlight from all of it was racing my brother Dries at Bathurst and watching him win the race.

He’s seven years younger than me, but he’s always been interested in racing. We’ve talked about it since we were very young; at traffic lights and in go-karts and simulators. I know he is always looking up to me.

He’s always happy for me, but also you could always see some trouble in his eyes, because he wanted to achieve the same things. I’m really happy for him now that he’s having his own success.

We’ve driven together in the same car before, but we’ve never really gone against each other on the same race track.

The night before, I slept at his hotel because it was closer to the track and we called our dad and were laughing about it. I was teasing him, even though I was starting 18th and he was starting seventh, I was saying ‘I’m coming to get you, I’m going to pass you like this,’ and he said ‘no way, I’m going to block you,’ and we were making jokes about it, but it actually happened!

I caught him and I was a bit surprised… it was a strange feeling. I had my little brother driving in front of me and we’re racing between walls and I had one or two opportunities that were quite risky spots, but I backed off because I didn’t want to risk anything and hurt my little brother.

I was quite cautious. Even when I did pass him I was thinking ‘okay, don’t do anything stupid, lets keep it simple and get it over with,’ because when we race in the simulator together we’re very competitive and end up crashing half the time.

None of us wants to give up. It was cool, but I was happy when it was over.

Photo: Porsche

After, when I saw the videos on the Twitter, I was very emotional. I was proud that two brothers, who are both factory drivers, have achieved this, where we race for a living on the other side of the planet in one of the biggest GT races.

It’s something really cool and I’m really proud of him. I think our parents were probably very proud as well, watching what we are doing, and I think even more scared!

Traveling as much as we do has its positives and negatives.

Obviously you see a lot of the world and go places others dream of, but you don’t always have much time to see a lot of things. You can maybe get in a day early and go into the city or go for dinner somewhere, but otherwise you just see: airport, restaurant, racetrack.

I love racing and I want to go to Bathurst and Macau and Nürburgring and everywhere in America, that’s what I love to do, but there’s nothing that beats home.

Last year I was gone for almost 200 days and those days. I have my wife and three dogs and I love cycling. It’s nice to eat at home, play with the dogs, go for a bike ride, and sleep in my own bed. No matter how beautiful traveling is, I look forward to coming home.

There’s always a similar discussion with my wife when I get back; she says ‘Let’s go out, let’s go somewhere for dinner,’ but I just want to enjoy the time off. We try to find a middle ground where everyone is happy.

Photo: Patrick Pilet

Fitness camp was fun, especially the nice weather in Tenerife (Spain).

For me personally, I love biking, but we didn’t do any biking, just running, and I hate running! We have other team activities, some crossfit, some strength training and core stability. We were always in different groups. They always have things that are interesting and different.

They always do a check to see where your weakness and strengths are and compare to the average of the group. There are always things to learn.

The main thing of the fitness camp is to get some team building, because normally during the year, we’re always traveling and competing. It’s good to bring everyone together and get to know one another a bit more.

There were also a lot of meetings, talking about tests and projects for the year.

We also recently completed the Sebring Test. There were no official times, so it’s difficult to know how we compared to the others. We had a test plan and went through it. We had some positive results and improved some things.

Sebring is a special place for the car and the driver, because it’s extremely bumpy and there are lots of different grip levels throughout the track.

It requires a special set up. Sometimes when I’m driving there I think ‘Oh I hate this place,’ like when you’re not in a rhythm and it’s not going well and you have these bumps throwing you around in the car.

It’s quite difficult. But when you get it right, it’s very fun to drive. It’s definitely more exhausting. It’s one of the only places where after a two-day test your back is quite sore and you’re feeling it in your neck too.

I also just had a quick trip to Weissach to do a roll out of a new RSR, which will be delivered to a customer for Le Mans.

Until Sebring I’m at home for a week and a half. I have some time to make the wife and dogs happy.

Photo: Porsche

Laurens Vanthoor (@VanthoorLaurens) is the 2019 IMSA GT Le Mans champion and former FIA GT World Cup champion driving for Porsche GT Team in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.


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