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VANTHOOR: The Rise of #Bamthor

Laurens Vanthoor files his latest Sportscar365 column ahead of his 24 Hours of Le Mans title defense…

Photo: IMSA

Having a teammate you get along with definitely helps your race performance. It’s clear that Earl Bamber and I get along very well.

When we’re racing, it’s because we respect each other a lot. We also get along away from the track.

When I’m at home and Earl is at Porsche Stuttgart, he comes by in the evening for dinner or we’ll go for a bike ride. I’m trying to get him into cycling, so everyone on Twitter that’s sick of all my cycling photos is going to love that.

We can talk to each other about anything, because we don’t have any hard feelings or egos in the way.

If Earl is quicker than me, I’m not angry; I only want to know how to get better. We’re still very competitive, but it’s in a healthy and respectful manner.

It sounds a bit awkward, but it’s kind of like a married couple—you have give and take and you have to accept the other person for who they are.

I think I do every race this year, besides Le Mans, with Earl, so if you count up all the days, I don’t think I see my wife much more than I see him. I really prefer seeing her though and I love her a lot more.

Earl’s actually joining us on vacation for a few days. Here I already spend all this time with him and now he’s showing up on my vacation too! Pretty soon Porsche will have a hard time separating us.

The #Bamthor thing is pretty funny! Someone on Twitter started it and we thought it was funny so we re-tweeted it and now a lot of people use it.

As a joke, we asked on social media who would buy a #Bamthor t-shirt and a lot of people said they would, so we’ll have shirts for sale from Watkins Glen on.

Apparently people think it’s funny and enjoy our stories—like me destroying Earl with mud at Mid-Ohio. We definitely try to enjoy our time at the track even when we’re not behind a steering wheel.

All focus is on Le Mans now. It’s the biggest race of the year. There’s a lot of preparation going into it. I’m already getting lots of emails with information on rules, strategy and so on.

It’s very clear that Porsche wants to win this race. It’s a lot of work for everyone. Last year I was relieved just to put my helmet on and get in the car and get on with it because of all the preparation going in.

Photo: Porsche

It will be different this year I think, since we won last year. Some say it adds pressure because you want to win, but I say it takes pressure away because you’ve proven already that you’re a winner.

Every win you get from now on is a bonus. I personally feel a bit more relaxed, but there’s still tons of pressure to perform.

It’s also a special situation for me this year because Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen are leading the WEC Championship.

I’m helping them to win the championship, but I’m not in it. Last year it was all about winning Le Mans, but this year it depends… maybe the Championship has the priority.

We’re getting into the busiest time of the year. It’s going to be quite difficult, I think, because we have Le Mans, then directly after we have the 24 Hours of Nürburgring.

Back-to-back 24-hour races will be tough and we have to be at Nürburgring by Wednesday so that means only one day at home.

Then we have to go to Watkins Glen and then right after is Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, but actually in between we have an important preparation test for the 24 Hours of Spa.

That means leave Watkins Glen for Europe on Monday, go directly to Spa to test on Tuesday, then fly to Canada on Wednesday. I hope this is where my cycling and training pay off.

It’s going to be a physically and mentally tough couple of weeks for everyone.

I’ll stay in the States between Road America and VIR. I’ll spend some time with the family in Florida, which will be nice. Well, except for when Earl shows up… just kidding!

Photo: Porsche

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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