Porsche factory driver Laurens Vanthoor is using his two Pirelli World Challenge SprintX appearances at Virginia International Raceway and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park to help ease the learning curve when he returns to the circuits with the manufacturer’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans program later in the year.
Paired with GMG Racing team owner James Sofronas in the team’s No. 14 Porsche 911 GT3 R, Vanthoor has impressed, winning the Pro-Am class in Race 1 of the CTMP weekend despite a lack of experience with the series and the circuit.
The Belgian ace is still relatively new to Porsche and to racing in America, and said that the additional track time is a major asset for him, especially since the team will be incorporating another Porsche neophyte into the lineup later in the season.
“It helps a lot, like at Austin, I had never been there before,” Vanthoor told Sportscar365. “It went relatively smooth in the end, but you always lose the first session for me just to learn the track.
“If you’re prepared and you know the track, you can directly start working on the car. For those reasons, it will be a big help especially as we have Gimmi Bruni coming in and he doesn’t know all of the tracks either, doesn’t know the car, so I am trying to be the most prepared.
“I think you learn mainly by racing. This weekend, I learned where you can overtake. You learn where the grip is. Yes it will be different with the RSR, it will be quicker and there will be more grip, but you know where to go.
“It doesn’t change so much in terms of line. Everything that you learn here you can take it with you when were come here with IMSA.”
Vanthoor said that the idea to use SprintX as a chance to scout out future IMSA venues came from within the Porsche hierarchy, and added that he was eager to take on the challenge.
“It was somebody from Porsche [who came up with the plan], I don’t know who exactly, but basically I was told, ‘You’re doing two SprintX races.’ And I was like, ‘OK!’ GMG needed a driver, and I’m racing for Porsche.
“It’s a nice championship. Nice tracks, it’s a cool format. I love the series, I think it’s fun, it’s nice competition and good battles so I’m enjoying it.”
Vanthoor said the laid-back atmosphere of the PWC paddock, and the professionalism of the GMG Racing team, has made the experience an enjoyable one.
“It’s fun,” he said. “You can’t compare it to the GTLM program in IMSA because I think the budget is ten or twenty times bigger, but they’re doing a great job.
“I’m having fun with them. I just told James [Sofronas] that I’m enjoying it because you don’t have any big meetings or big media commitments. It’s just about coming here, driving the car, and having fun.
“I got here Friday, stepped into the car, and the car was near to good, so they’re doing a good job.”