Porsche factory driver Laurens Vanthoor joined the Pfaff Motorsport team for 2021. Although the Belgian changed his GTLM machine for the plaid Motul-coloured GTD car it didn’t seem to make him any less successful. He and his teammates Lars Kern and Zachary Robichon took the class victory in the 12 Hours of Sebring. Another victory to add to a long list of endurance successes.
Laurens, first of all, congratulations on the success at Sebring! It must be a great experience already having joined the Canadian Pfaff effort only a few months ago. What’s your feeling about the new team?
Coming from the Porsche factory team, it was quite the challenge. The way the Pfaff team works is very different from how the factory team works. Maybe a bit for the better because the general atmosphere is less nervous and doesn’t carry the same kind of pressure as with a works team. However, they are no less driven to win. Which showed in our success at Sebring. The team is very motivated to improve the way they structure works, and they have been paying a lot of attention to my feedback and are willing to improve on every aspect of the team. I’m just really excited to be a part of it and continue to build and improve with the team.
You and the team overcame the bumps of Sebring with success! Talk us through the race and how you turned it into a victory.
Sebring is always a challenge and it’s a tough old-school track. The conditions are very changeable and it gets significantly colder when the sun sets. It was a textbook endurance race for us. Every piece of the puzzle fitted perfectly. The strategy worked out as it should. There was not a single mechanical issue, and we didn’t have any significant contact with other participants. This kind of race doesn’t come by very often. It was a true team effort and it showed in a great result.
You moved from a 911 RSR GTLM car to a 911 GT3-R GTD machine. Two very similar looking cars but they couldn’t be more different.
Absolutely, to the untrained eye they look very similar. But there are so many big differences. Most notably the engine of the RSR, which is a lot more powerful. It’s placed behind the driver instead of behind the rear wheels as is the case in a normal 911 and the GT3-R. This also means the GTLM car has a lot more aero at its disposal than the GTD car. Another huge difference are the tyres. GTLM cars are running bespoke tyres developed for the car itself while GTD cars are only allowed to use a specific standard race tyre that is the same for everyone. The way the team works with a car is also very different. In the RSR you have virtually unlimited set-up possibilities and there are a lot more engineers and team members looking after the car while the GTD cars are customer programs that have much more standardised ways of working and setup.
With Sebring, you’re adding another big check on your endurance bucket list. What is still left on that list?
My ultimate goal would be to win the four big endurance races overall. That would be Spa 24 Hours, Nürburgring 24 Hours, Daytona 24 Hours, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. I’ve won both Spa and Nürburgring already so that leaves Daytona and Le Mans. I’m happy to have won Le Mans in class but in order to win it overall, it would mean I have to get behind a wheel of a prototype. Luckily Porsche has announced its return to LMDH so I’m crossing my fingers to hopefully get a chance to race it and maybe that way I can complete my list!
Speaking of the future. IMSA has announced the end the GTLM category, to be replaced by a new GTD Pro category. Do you think it’s a good move?
We were all a bit sad last year when Porsche Motorsport announced it would no longer run the 911 RSR in the IMSA championship. Along with a bunch of other factors, this led to the demise of the category as a whole. The new category will be focused on GTD cars with professional drivers. I think it’s a great move as it will increase the field and the level of the field as well. As mentioned before, I don’t think many fans will notice a big difference between GTD and GTLM cars and, with a better field of GT cars, it’s only a win for the fans. Ultimately that’s where it really counts.
On social media, you’ve introduced the world to “Keto Larry” spending a lot of time re-porting on your Keto Diet. What was the drive behind this big switch?
When I was doing long endurance races in the last few years, I started noticing stomach problems and it was really starting to affect my health and wellbeing. I tried so many diets and went to so many specialists. A fellow race driver had been doing a Keto diet for years and suggested it to me as a solution. In general, it means that I mostly live on fats and proteins instead of carbohydrates. I’ve been doing it for six weeks and have been reporting to my following on Instagram. The first few weeks were tough but I’m already seeing results as all of my stomach issues are now gone.
This year you’re racing a bright Motul/plaid-coloured 911. What does a brand like Motul mean to you?
Motul is one of those brands that’s engraved in motorsport. It’s been a part of racing for as long as I can remember. I’m very excited to be representing a legendary brand like Motul and hope to deliver them more success in the Pfaff car!