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Vanthoor “frustrated” by DTM form, expected “smoother” transition

Porsche factory driver Laurens Vanthoor admits he expected his first season in the DTM “to go a little bit smoother” and is “frustrated” by his results so far.

Laurens Vanthoor, SSR Performance Porsche 911 GT3-R

Laurens Vanthoor, SSR Performance Porsche 911 GT3-R

Alexander Trienitz

The Belgian ace, who will form part of Porsche’s 963 LMDh driver lineup next year, joined DTM newcomer SSR Performance for the Weissach manufacturer’s first season in the DTM this year with the 911 GT3 R.

A two-time champion in the IMSA SportsCar Championship with titles in the FIA GT/Blancpain GT Series and 24-hour race victories at Le Mans, Spa and the Nurburgring on his CV, Vanthoor is one of the most decorated GT drivers in the DTM field.

But the 31-year-old has had a tough start to the 2022 campaign, and despite scoring in five of the eight DTM races so far lies 15th in the standings at the season’s halfway point with a best finish of fourth.

Speaking to Motorsport.com, Vanthoor said he had not expected to come into the series and blow the opposition away, but admitted that he was “a little bit frustrated not to be driving up front”.

“It’s up to a lot of small things, including myself,” he explained.

“I’m not blaming the car or whatever, it’s packaged together.

“It’s a fact that me as well, and Porsche and the team, we are new to DTM and DTM is a very specific series I think in the way everything works.

“It takes a bit of time to discover what’s needed, I think that’s one point.

“You can’t expect to come here and show the teams and manufacturers that have been here 10 years in two races how it’s done. It’s something that simply takes time.

“I’ve expected it to – not come and win the first race, but I did expect it to go a little bit smoother to be honest.

“But that’s the way it is, I’m trying to get on top of it.”

Laurens Vanthoor, SSR Performance

Laurens Vanthoor, SSR Performance

Photo by: Alexander Trienitz

Vanthoor added that he has struggled to get the set-up “where I need it” and says he is considering a change of approach to get the car to respond to him as he is accustomed.

“The way I normally drive the car, we can’t get the set-up there,” he said.

“It’s up to so many details, everything together has to fit.”

SSR lobbied the DTM after the Portimao opening round to complain about Porsche's Balance of Performance, but the car has performed better in recent rounds, with Team Bernhard's Thomas Preining finishing fourth at Imola and taking a maiden win at the Norisring last time out.

Vanthoor’s best result is a fourth place in race one at the Norisring, before a fire extinguisher system that was not connected in qualifying for race two meant he was sent to the back of the grid, and finished outside the points in 16th.

The lack of availability of Michelin tyres for DTM teams to test has also impacted SSR’s adjustment to the series from ADAC GT Masters, where the 2020 champion squad ran on Pirelli rubber.

And Vanthoor believes the weekend format, with two 45-minute practice sessions on Friday followed by a 20-minute qualifying and race on Saturday and Sunday, means teams “don’t have time to catch up” if they don't start the weekend on form.

“It’s a championship which is very oriented in a special way with not much time and tracks and the format which others have been experiencing for a lot of years,” he said.

“But once you’re on the back foot it’s difficult to catch up.

“I’m still convinced that we will be there at one point, hopefully sooner rather than later.

“Sometimes projects go like this, sometimes it takes a bit more time to sort it out and once it clicks it goes in the right direction.”

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