Vanthoor chasing LMP1 ambitions

Laurens Vanthoor is targeting an LMP1 drive after setting the fastest lap of the test day in the LMP2 class during the Le Mans 24 Hours test day last weekend.

Vanthoor chasing LMP1 ambitions
#34 OAK Racing Ligier JS P2: Chris Cumming, Kevin Estre, Laurens Vanthoor
#29 Audi Sport Team WRT Audi R8 LMS: Nicki Thiim, Christer Jöns, Pierre Kaffer, Laurens Vanthoor
#28 Audi Sport Team WRT Audi R8 LMS: Christopher Mies, Edward Sandström, Nico Müller, Laurens Vanthoor
#29 Audi Sport Team WRT Audi R8 LMS: Nicki Thiim, Christer Jöns, Pierre Kaffer, Laurens Vanthoor
#29 Audi Sport Team WRT Audi R8 LMS: Nicki Thiim, Christer Jöns, Pierre Kaffer, Laurens Vanthoor
Laurens Vanthoor with his girlfriend Jacqueline, after his last stint
Podium: Christopher Mies, Edward Sandström, Nico Müller, Laurens Vanthoor celebrate with champagne
#29 Audi Sport Team WRT Audi R8 LMS: Nicki Thiim, Christer Jöns, Pierre Kaffer, Laurens Vanthoor and #25 Marc VDS Racing BMW Z4 GT3: Maxime Martin, Lucas Luhr, Markus Palttala, Richard Westbrook

The Belgian, who is acknowledged as one of the best GT3 drivers in the world, will make his Le Mans 24 Hours race debut next weekend at the wheel of an Oak Racing Ligier-HPD.

"Of course I would love to race an LMP1 car, this is the aim," 24-year-old Vanthoor told Motorsport.com.

"But I know it will not happen tomorrow. I must be patient and build good results in LMP2 to start with.

"At the moment I am happy in GT3 with Audi and have a busy year ahead with my team who are really, really good. But it is natural to be ambitious."

Vanthoor, who has been an Audi factory driver since the end of 2012, has essentially been placed at Oak Racing by the German manufacturer to learn more about LMP racing.

Audi applied the same strategy for current LMP1 driver Rene Rast in the Sebastien Loeb Racing run ORECA-Nissan LMP2 car at Le Mans last year.

Vanthoor briefly sampled LMP2 power for the first time alongside Rast at the 2014 test day but got his first serious running last Sunday with the Oak Ligier-HPD.

"It would be a dream to drive for Audi in LMP1, of course it would," he said. "But there is a long way to go and I have to earn a place if an opportunity came to me in the future. I am still young and there is plenty of time and I will only get there when the time is right for everyone."

Vanthoor exploded on to the GT3 scene in 2012 and has since won both the 2013 FIA GT Series and the 2014 Blancpain Endurance Series. He also has victories in endurance classics at Spa in 2014 and at the Nurburgring 24 Hours, which he won last month.

Promising start at test day

"The conditions were not ideal but ultimately they were the same for everyone so I was happy that we ended in P1," Vanthoor said.

"Apart from five laps last year it was the first proper stints I had done on the track and I loved every minute. I think with Kevin (Estre) and Chris (Cummings) we have a strong team but we have limited experience of the race itself so there will be a lot of learning as the race goes on."

The No.34 Oak Racing car overcame an engine problem last Sunday to return to the track after a change by the Philippe Dumas- led squad.

Kevin Estre, who has only driven the car briefly at a test in Spa, last month, was unable to take part last weekend after having a prior commitment in the Pirelli World Challenge.

Motorsport.com understands that Audi has not discounted potential further races for Vanthoor in LMP2 later his year, should it be fitted in to his Blancpain GT race commitments.

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Series Le Mans
Drivers Laurens Vanthoor
Teams OAK Racing
Author Sam Smith
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