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VANTHOOR: A Clean Slate Turns into a Championship

Laurens Vanthoor reflects on his two-year rise to becoming a champion with Porsche…

Photo: Porsche

I think everyone knows by now that myself, Earl, Porsche and the team have won the IMSA Drivers’, Team and Manufacturers’ Championships.

For me personally, it means a lot.

Three years ago I was in an environment where I knew everybody at Audi and WRT and we were having lots of success.

We won a lot of races and championships, but I felt like it was time to take the next step in my career.

I was presented a great opportunity with Porsche and took it. I expected it to be different, but it was even more than I imagined, to be honest.

Photo: Porsche

I remember coming to Daytona the first time. I wanted to race in America, but I didn’t know the tracks, I didn’t know the car or the Michelin tires, I didn’t know anyone on the team, I didn’t know the rules (which are very different from Europe). It felt like I was starting my career over.

Daytona was okay that first year, but I struggled at Sebring and I have to admit I was a bit freaked out. It was a lot harder than I ever expected it to be.

I’d won stuff with Audi; I’d won the 24 Hours of Spa and Nürburgring and GT3 Championships, but I still had to prove to Porsche what I could do.

Two years later, to come away with a championship means a hell of a lot to me.

It doesn’t always work out when a driver is successful in one place and then switches to another, so I’m really pleased it worked for me. I don’t want to sound arrogant, but I’m so proud and so happy.

Photo: Porsche

Earl and I really wanted this. We were very stressed the last couple of races because we wanted to make it work. I hope this is the first of many championships with Porsche.

Our Coca-Cola car will go to the Porsche museum, which is just another amazing story. The day after I signed with Porsche, I went to the museum with my wife to look at all the cars and the names on the cars.

I told her it would be awesome if one day there was a car with my name on it; and now there are three! I don’t know if they’ll all be there at the same time, but there’s the Pink Pig from Le Mans last year, the Coca-Cola car and the black, white and gold car I shared with Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen when they won the 2018 – 2019 WEC Championship.

I feel like a little kid when I think about it. Who wouldn’t want to have a Porsche race car with their name on it in the Porsche museum?

I’ve said it before: in racing there are happy times and there are bad times. It is a happy time right now. Earl and I know it won’t always be like this and that’s just the way life goes. We’re trying to enjoy the moment.

Photo: Porsche

Everything has calmed down now that the season is over. Of course I’m back to cycling again. My friends all want to know why I’m suddenly much stronger and it’s because I’m more relaxed.

We’ve got some tests and proper parties coming up. We’ll have a team celebration in Charlotte this week, which is what everyone deserves for what we accomplished.

It seems like every August when I look ahead on the calendar to October, November, December I think ‘ah, that will be more time to relax,’ but then you get emails and all the days start filling up. We never stop.

The family is doing great. Our baby is getting big. She likes animals, so my wife and I have been taking her to see lots of animals. I had to leave for a test and it was the first time where Emily understood what it means when my luggage is by the door.

At first I thought she was just playing with it, but then when I took it and walked out the door she started crying. I went back in and she grabbed me and I gave her a hug. I was pretty sad and didn’t want to go.

I guess if that’s the only thing I have to complain about, life is a fairytale at the moment!

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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