Laurens Vanthoor is hoping that Porsche’s pit lane incident at Sebring was the only “mistake of the championship” as he and co-driver Earl Bamber look to continue their IMSA GT Le Mans class title defense.
The No. 912 Porsche pairing head into this weekend’s IMSA Road Race Showcase at Road America second in the GTLM standings, one point behind Corvette Racing’s Jordan Taylor and Antonio Garcia, after scoring podiums in all three WeatherTech SportsCar Championship races this season.
It came despite the two factory Porsche 911 RSR-19s colliding in pit lane that resulted in a dislodged nose for the No. 912 car, which was quickly repaired by the CORE autosport-run crew and helped propel Vanthoor and Bamber to a third place finish in class after impressive recovery drives from both drivers.
When asked about the incident, Vanthoor, who was behind the wheel of the car at the time, said it was “difficult to pinpoint” who was exactly at blame.
“With something like this happening within Porsche, we did have a couple of meetings afterwards,” he said.
“The problem was that everybody was going for one spot. We’re all racing, so we didn’t want to give in.
“We had a bad pit stop. We found out afterwards we had a slower rate of refueling, which cost us time. We came in from the lead.
“That was the first problem where it all started. Then afterwards, from my point of view. It’s so difficult. Our goal is to look at the fuel guy, then pull out, unless we’re told differently.
“You see out of one eye the two Corvettes going in the lane, then you see out of your other eye in the rearview camera of Nick [Tandy, in No. 911] starting to move. The fuel [hose] got pulled [out]. Everything happened at the same time.
“The conclusion of it, and it’s my opinion too, that it wasn’t anybody’s fault. It was a circumstance that was 1 out of 100. But it showed that we could improve our way of doing it.
“We found a mistake in our procedure that let this happen, which we can improve. That’s what we did.”
Vanthoor admitted that he had “a lot of F words going through [his] mouth” after the contact with Nick Tandy’s No. 911 car, which at that point, appeared their chances of keeping their podium streak alive were over.
However, it opened up the door for an alternative strategy.
“Due to the fact we had to come into fix it, we were in the window where we could make a stop less,” Vanthoor said. “The guys on the pit stand made an incredible, quick reaction to jump on that horse and change our strategy.
“That made us come back. Those kind of weekends and events are the most important because I consider that our mistake.
“I hope that’s our [only] mistake of the championship and we came back to finish on the podium.
“That’s where you gain the points to win a championship, those moments. In the end, it turned out OK for what it was initially showed.”
Bamber: Increased Fuel Capacities in GTLM to Create “Interesting Dynamic”
An increase in fuel capacities across the board in the class will likely result in a “more flat out race” according to Bamber, who hopes the latest-generation Porsche will be a good “step forward” at Road America compared to the new-for-2020 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R.
IMSA has given all three GTLM models additional fuel for this weekend, with the Porsche now at 96 liters (+3 liters), the Corvette at 101 liters (+5 liters) and BMW M8 GTE with a 97-liter tank (+ 12 liters).
“The championship is super close between the 3 and the 912 at the moment,” Bamber said. “There seems to be a tight battle but obviously the points can swing at any moment in IMSA.
“For us, traditionally, Road America hasn’t been our strongest. We managed to get a podium last year in the 912, so we thought that was a really big turning point for us in the championship.
“We’re hoping with the new -19 car that we make a step forward but obviously Corvette are super strong, BMW has got a bit of a big helping hand as well so I’m sure they’ll be competitive and in the mix.
“With the fuel tanks opened up a bit more as well, I predict a lot less fuel savings and a bit more of a flat out race. That opens up the strategies a lot as well.
“I think it’s going to be an interesting dynamic.”