Vanthoor looking forward to home race at Spa-Francorchamps
One man who will be riding a wave of popularity at next week’s TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, round three of the FIA WEC, is Porsche Penske Motorsport’s Laurens Vanthoor.
The local favourite will make the short trip of 45 minutes from his home to the fearsome and majestic Ardennes circuit full of anticipation and some momentum after securing Porsche Penske’s first podium at Portimao last week.
For Vanthoor the opportunity to race with Porsche in a full World Championship campaign alongside Kevin Estre and Andre Lotterer in the No.6 Porsche Penske 963 is something he has dreamed about for a long-time.
“I think, personally, the opportunity this year has been a childhood dream come true, something I’ve been dreaming of for the past ten years,” said Vanthoor. "To be able to do it with Porsche Penske, they’re two names I’ve always admired, is literally a childhood dream. So, going to Belgium and Spa, it’s pretty cool. Obviously I know Spa quite well and have won the 24 Hours twice, it’s only 45 minutes from where I live, so it’s going to be one of the events I’m looking forward to the most this year.
Vanthoor recognises that the new Hypercar class and the boost in manufacturer interest is triggering a golden period for endurance racing right now and he is grateful to be part of it all, especially when tracks like Spa are visited.
“When we were testing there a couple of weeks ago it was actually pretty nice and cool to drive there,” he said. "The old LMP1 days, is a period I’ve never experienced and that looked special, so for me this is an upgrade from what I’m used to and sure it’s still high speed so it’s still a nice car to drive.”
The outlook for Vanthoor and the Porsche Penske team looks bright right now after a tentative start at Sebring. But it was, on a few levels at least, wholly expected.
“I think it’s a lot of small things. I think one thing is, obviously, we have a new car and we have also a completely new team, we saw each other for the first time on the track two weeks before Sebring,” added the Belgian.
“Those things take time versus a Toyota that’s been there for a long time. There are things on the car that we need to improve; it’s a complex car with the hybrid and the regen systems as well, so there is a lot of stuff to play with, there is a lot of stuff to understand and to optimise. That just takes time. We definitely are working on it but I’m positive and I keep saying if two names like Porsche and Penske will achieve success. We’ll get there it’s just a question of when.”
Vanthoor will share the car with Andre Lotterer, who himself has deep Belgian roots despite racing under the German flag. Lotterer is a veteran of sportscar racing now and was a benchmark in the LMP1 Hybrid days, something which Vanthoor is acutely aware of, saying that “Andre is a bit of a legend in endurance and rightly so.”
“It’s actually perfect because Kevin [Estre] and myself know each other really well, Andre is new to us let’s say, but he brings a lot of experience.
“He brings some experience in Formula E with electric systems and all that stuff, which has some similarities. He has a lot of experience with those kind of cars which Kevin and myself don’t, so it accomplishes our group together actually, our driving styles are very similar and off track we get along really well.
“I’m really happy because as a group we’re getting along well, professionally and off track too so I definitely see that there is a driver trio that has a good future, with us three together.”
Next week the FIA WEC will be at Spa-Francorchamps for the TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (27-29 April). Click HERE for ticketing information.