Laurens Vanthoor has admitted he felt nervous ahead of his Porsche debut at last year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona and is surprised at how much of a difference a year in the program has made.
With a new team, series and car to get used to, the Belgian felt somewhat overwhelmed 12 months ago but is in a much better position heading into this year’s running of the race.
“I was speaking to my wife on the way here about how big of a difference a year can make,” he told Sportscar365.
“Last year when I came here, I was nervous and unsure, and I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know anything: I didn’t know the car, the track, the team, the rules.
“On the plane, I was reading all the documents for ten hours trying to figure everything out and it was like the first day of school.
“You obviously don’t have so much confidence when you don’t know everything and this year it’s the opposite.”
The 2016 Intercontinental GT Challenge champion managed a sixth-place class finish in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship opener last year and went on to secure three podium finishes over the rest of the season.
With this success in his and the new Porsche 911 RSR’s first season in the championship, Vanthoor feels positive for the year ahead.
“It’s only one year and I don’t have the experience of the guys who have been here ten years, but I know the car, we’ve been testing a lot, and I’ve got a relationship with the team now,” he explained.
“I understand everything and it really makes you feel more relaxed and more confident. I’m feeling pretty good and looking forward to the start.
“You can feel a difference with the mechanics and the team. In the engineering side, we have a year of experience and things that we’ve worked on.
“They know in the toolbox which tool does what, and you can feel it. When you come here and to the Roar, it’s quite a big step up compared to the beginning of last year.”
As for the Rolex 24, Vanthoor reckons Porsche will be in the fight for the GTLM class honors but admits it faces an unpredictable battle.
“We’re in a good position,” he said. “It’s always difficult to say now how everyone will be in the last hours of the race because it’s always quite tight and comes down to details, but I think we have a good chance.
“The big question mark for everybody is what is with the BMW. Are they really struggling or are they still able to unleash the potential?
“It’s always very tight so it depends on a lot of details. On Sunday afternoon, will it be cold, wet or warm? It’s going to depend a lot on those things.”