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Vanthoor: Catching Up to Rivals is Porsche’s “Biggest Task”

Porsche factory star remaining realistic about Porsche’s chances in first DTM campaign…

Photo: DTM

Laurens Vanthoor reckons Porsche’s main task as it heads into first full season of racing in DTM will be to quickly close the deficit to the series’ other manufacturers, which have already completed a year under the GT3 ruleset.

The Belgian will make his DTM debut at Portimao this weekend aboard the No. 92 SSR Performance Porsche 911 GT3 R, driving one of three cars from the German manufacturer.

The other two cars, a second from SSR and one from KÜS 75 Team Bernhard, will be driven by Dennis Olsen and Thomas Preining, respectively.

Porsche joins DTM in the second year of its GT3 ruleset after only contesting one guest appearance at the Nürburgring for SSR with Michael Ammermueller.

This is in sharp contrast to rival manufacturers Audi, BMW, Mercedes-AMG, Ferrari and Lamborghini, who were there from the start of the new ruleset.

This means they all boast more experience with the single-driver sprint race format.

Experience for the three main German manufacturers runs even deeper, as their history in the series dates back many years.

According to Vanthoor, catching up with the more experienced manufacturers will be a priority for Porsche as the season starts.

“It’s our biggest challenge,” Vanthoor told Sportscar365.

“The team and myself obviously have high ambitions to be successful, but you can’t forget that there are teams and drivers that have been racing in this format and on these tracks for ten years or more, even if it is a different car.

“So it’s not that easy to show up and beat everybody; it wouldn’t be a high-level championship if that was the case.

“The Porsche is also new to DTM, so we’ll have to try and learn all those things as quick as we can and gather the experience.

“Because at the end, the when the team has shown in the past what it is capable of doing.

“Porsche has won pretty much every championship in endurance racing during the last couple of years. I’ve done my best, but now we need to put our heads together and we’re all kind of new to each other.

“So that’s my in opinion, the biggest task, but I would say it’s not impossible.”

As part of his preparation, the Porsche factory driver has had the benefit of two multi-day test sessions organized at Hockenheim at Portimao.

“It definitely helps,” Vanthoor spoke of the large amount of track time offered up prior to the opening race of the season.

“We’ve also had a couple more private tests. For sure, it helps with preparation and the experience factor.

“Last year when I was in IMSA, there were zero test days. So it’s good, but I’m also looking forward to finally go racing, I’m more the racing type of guy than the testing type of guy.”

Vanthoor, who has spent the last few years contesting endurance races primarily in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, said the move into DTM marks something of a switch in terms of driving style.

While he spent the early part of his sports car career contesting sprint races in multiple series with Audi, Vanthoor admitted that stepping back into a shorter race format requires a “mindset switch”.

“It’s about switching, because although I did FIA GT Series and the [GT World Challenge Europe Sprint Cup], which is a similar format, it’s true that the last couple of years I’ve been primarily focusing on endurance racing,” he said.

“In fact, in those years, when I came from a sprint background, I had to learn to cope with fuel saving, tyre management, strategy, playing the long game, all that stuff.

“Now it’s the complete contrary,  but I’ve done it in the past and I know how it works.

“It’s just mainly a bit of a mindset switch and hopefully, that will go smooth.”

Davey Euwema is a Sportscar365 reporter based in The Netherlands, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, DTM, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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