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Vanthoor: “Difficult to Top” 2019 Success Despite Reduced Grid

Laurens Vanthoor believes title defense will be difficult, despite reduced GTLM field…

Photo: Porsche

Laurens Vanthoor believes achieving a repeat Porsche’s success from the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will be “difficult to top” despite a reduced field of GT Le Mans class machinery for next year.

Vanthoor and co-driver Earl Bamber teamed for three of Porsche’s six wins in GTLM this year that took Porsche to its first manufacturers’ title since 2015 and the first with the mid-engined 911 RSR.

Now armed with the German manufacturer’s second-generation GTE contender, which made its debut in the 2019-20 FIA World Endurance Championship, Vanthoor feels there will be a number of new variables at play heading into the 2020 season.

“I think it’s quite an impressive car in the way it’s built and the way it works,” Vanthoor told Sportscar365.

“BoP will never make it quicker but I think the tools we have in the car are quite advanced in terms of technology and stuff like that, for the engineers as well as us.

“It’s a new car so we’re still learning it. I think it will go easier than we had with the previous RSR because that was the first mid-engined car. We did struggle with that in the beginning.

“It’s been quite successful in WEC already, although they won more often on strategy than pure pace. It should be interesting.”

Vanthoor admitted that Porsche doesn’t necessarily need to maintain the same dominant form in order to repeat as class champions next year, with consistency often paying the biggest dividends due to the nature of the IMSA points system.

Corvette Racing’s Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia claimed the 2018 GTLM drivers’ championship without a single class win to their credit, largely due to only to finish off the podium three times that season.

“We had six wins total, five straight. I think it’s going to be difficult to top it,” Vanthoor said. “In the end we don’t need to top it. The goal is championships. Corvette won the championship two years ago without winning a race.

“We need to keep on working. It will be a new car with a lot of new systems. We’ll have to adapt as well as a team. We’ll be facing new issues so we’ll just have to continue to work in a way and keep learning.”

GTLM Still at High Level Despite Reduced Six-Car Grid

Vanthoor believes GTLM will still be a “huge challenge” next year despite Ford’s departure that will leave the class with an expected six-car field for the full season.

“I’m not going to lie. Being on the grid with six cars… [is disappointing],” he said. “But on the other hand, the level of where we operate at is extremely high.

“We’re coming with a new car and Corvette is coming with a new car. It will be interesting.

“I think a lot of people underestimate the level of operation in GTLM or GTE. I thought the same before when I was doing GT3s, why GTLM, why not just drive GT3?

“Well it’s actually a completely different world the way it works.

“Factory teams, the whole year around, there’s a lot more development, developing tires, systems. I think it’s comparable to DTM where GT3 is customer racing.

“Even thought we’re at six cars, it will still be a huge challenge at all aspects, which makes it still exciting and difficult.”

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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