It took Laurens Vanthoor a year, but he finally took his first Nürburgring victory for Porsche. The Belgian and his team-mates were untouchable for the rest of the field in the VLN season-opening race, as the Manthey Racing Porsche 991 GT3R squad picked up where they left off before the winter.
Never was Manthey’s win at risk. Right from the get-go Vanthoor built a gap to be never seen again. Earl Bamber and Kévin Estre continued the high pace set in the first stint. For a moment their pursuers got close again when confusion at Döttinger Höhe brought the frontrunners back together, but Estre immediately dashed his competitor’s hopes and ran off with the win.
“Everything went to plan,” Vanthoor said.
“I had a good start and was 7able to quickly build a gap to the Ferrari and hold on to it. In traffic it also went well.
“Kévin [Estre] had some bad luck with a Code 60 causing everyone to come back together, but in the end the car was amazing and we had the pace.
“Of course, it’s never boring at the Nordschleife, but everything went well.”
After racing the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring last year on the Falken Motorsports Porsche 991 GT3R, Vanthoor moved to Manthey Racing for 2018 to race Porsche’s de facto lead car.
“This was my first race with Manthey, my first race on the famous ‘Grello’, so it’s a perfect beginning,” the winner of the 2015 24 Hours of the Nürburgring continued.
“The car was really good, it was one of the best cars that I’ve driven at the Nordschleife.
“Everything went perfect for us, it was great.”
While Porsche went all-out in the run-up to the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring, talk of sandbagging already reared its head. Vanthoor, however, won’t waste time worrying about any Balance of Performance changes that may or may not come their way.
“That’s not my job. I drove as I always do, and the rest is ‘above my paygrade’, as they say.”
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