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VANTHOOR: Enjoying the Good Days

Laurens Vanthoor files his latest Sportscar365 column following his first Porsche win…

Photo: Porsche

March was quite a good month! The one’s leading up to it had been a bit frustrating, but now we’ve had two good races with a third at Sebring and a win in VLN at the Nordschleife.

I hope this is the start of an upward trend.

First of all, I would like to explain that I am my own biggest critic. If I’ve done a good job, I’ll be happy. If I feel I made a mistake or don’t get the full potential from the car, I won’t be happy.

Sometimes I’m maybe too hard on myself. A good example of this is Sebring.

We finished third and the number 911 won, which is, from the outside, a perfect race for Porsche.

Up to my final stint, I was very happy with how the race was progressing; we had to replace the rear diffuser, so we dropped back a bit, but we were still in the game.

At the last restart, I don’t know what happened, I was stuck behind Pier Guidi and couldn’t get through traffic. I think I lost 10 seconds per lap compared to Nick. I was stuck everywhere at every occasion.

I don’t know if it was just bad luck, or if I was doing a poor job. It’s hard to say if that cost us the win, but it made it more difficult to fight for victory.

After the race everyone was happy, but I had a long face and people might think ‘what’s his problem, he’s never happy,’ but no, I’m just hard on myself.

I was thinking I messed up the last restart and I could have been better and fought for the victory.

I was pissed at myself and maybe people thought I was angry or not happy or never satisfied, but at those moments I’m just frustrated with myself.

Photo: Porsche

After a half an hour, I’m fine and I’m happy for everyone at Porsche, because they work very hard and deserve victory. The finish was good for the championship too. It’s something to be happy about.

The win in VLN was really nice. Going to the Nordschleife is always one of the highlights of the year. It’s my favorite track and the most challenging.

I hadn’t driven there since the 24-hour race the year before and you have to start easy because you have a lot of respect for the track and then you move on and find the limit. It’s fantastic.

Nothing compares to it. Anyone who loves racing cars should go there at least once in their lifetime. It’s a bucket list thing to do. The race went well.

It was a preparation race for the 24-hour. We did our job. Everything went very smooth. The car was one of the best I’ve driven there. The team did a good job.

In a couple weeks, at the 24 hours, we’ll be there and we’ll be strong.

Photo: Porsche

Strangely enough, I got to mix it up with my little brother again, but this time it was in practice, so everything was more relaxed.

I caught a bit of traffic and he was behind me. He flashed me and I knew it was either him or his teammate Robin Frijns, who is a very good friend of mine.

It was practice, so I gave him a tap on the brakes to say hello. Here we were, two cars on the Nordschleife and you’d think we were racing through traffic like it was the last lap of a race. It was really fun.

After that I got away from him and I teased him later. It wasn’t stressful like Bathurst, it was more fun.

This VLN was my first win with Porsche. Finally! It took a bit longer than I wanted, but it’s been a mix of a lot of things.

We’ve often been strong and in a position to win races, but things didn’t work out. I’m not very old, but I have experience and I know sometimes there are periods where things don’t go your way and it’s very frustrating. In motorsport, the result isn’t always a reflection of what you did.

You could have the best year, but not win a race. It’s not like biking where if you have very good legs and good strategy you do well.

Photo: Porsche

In motorsport, a lot of dots have to connect and sometimes you have periods where nothing seems to connect.

It’s very frustrating because you know you can do better. Experience tells me that these bad times end and they change into periods of victory. There is always this type of flow from good to bad.

It’s good to know that when you’re having a hard time, you just need to do your job and stay focused, keep working hard and the good days will come.

It’s equally as important to know when you are having the good days, to enjoy it, because those good days will go away again.

I guess winning a World Cup on my roof has cost me quite a bit of luck and ever since then I’ve had bad luck, so I hope March was a turning point.

Now we go to Long Beach where I earned my first IMSA podium and we’ll try to carry our momentum from Nordschleife and Sebring.

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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