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Bamber, Vanthoor “Pushing Forward” in Strong Start to Year

Earl Bamber, Laurens Vanthoor riding high on heels of second consecutive IMSA GTLM win…

Photo: Porsche

Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor are looking to keep “pushing forward” in their GT Le Mans title quest, following a strong start to their IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship campaign.

The duo claimed top class honors in Sunday’s Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio, coming just three weeks after winning on the streets of Long Beach, which vaulted the No. 912 Porsche pairing to the GTLM points lead.

While enjoying a controlling run in the second half of Sunday’s race, Bamber feels that the factory squad, which has claimed three wins out of four races this year, has been going from strength to strength.

“I think we just need to keep pushing forward,” Bamber said. “Obviously we’ve had a good rhythm, especially on our car. We have a new engineer this year so it’s been fun.

“Every race we’ve been getting stringer and stronger, as a crew and as a squad. We had a tough year [in 2018] so we had talks to bring ourselves into the game. Now I think [we’re doing well].

“Here it’s all about not making mistakes. There’s a lot of quick cars out there.

“It’s all pretty close and down to, first of all, qualifying up front, and that give you some different options. If you can manage to do clean, mistake-free races, then this is what’s earning good points for us at the moment.”

While the GTLM class doesn’t resume until the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen in late June due to the Le Mans break, Bamber believes they can carry the momentum into the French endurance classic, where Porsche will again have a four-car factory GTE-Pro effort.

The dynamic duo, which have picked up the nickname “BamThor” in the States, will be in separate entries at Le Mans, with Bamber paired with IMSA teammates Patrick Pilet and Nick Tandy in one of the CORE autosport-run entries.

“Unfortunately we’ll have to go in opposite cars [again],” Bamber said. “But there’s a very, very strong collaboration between the WEC team and IMSA team at the moment. So that’s good going into Le Mans.”

Vanthoor, who heads into Le Mans as the defending class winner alongside Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen, shares similar sentiments. 

“It’s quite fun because every other race in the season we do it together,” he said. “That’s the only race we race against each other.

“It will be a very big one, also the 24 Hours of Nürburging the week after as well. There’s a break here but we’re still busy with other big projects.

“This momentum helps the team in IMSA and both of us personally, in our confidence, for the next couple of races. So it’s all good.”

Once they return Stateside in late June, Bamber said it will be full focus on the GTLM championship, which they currently lead by seven points over Corvette Racing’s Jan Magunssen and Antonio Garcia.

“That’s going to be exciting,” Bamber said. “Then it will be full focus on the summer period where we have races that are quick-fire and that’s where the championship is won.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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