By Tarek Ramchani
2014 was a great year for Audi works driver Laurens Vanthoor. The Belgian GT ace won the Spa 24 Hours outright, the Blancpain Endurance Series and the overall Blancpain GT Series titles.
Laurens Vanthoor season started Down-Under at Mount Panorama. He joined Phoenix Racing at Bathurst 12 Hour endurance race. Vanthoor performed well along with team-mates René Rast and Rahel Frey. The trio of drivers pushed very hard but Balance of Performance didn not help the Audi squad to challenge for race victory.
Back in Europe Laurens Vanthoor entered the full Blancpain GT Series with Belgian Audi Club Team WRT. The series combined both Blancpain Endurance Series and Blancpain Sprint Series.
In the Blancpain Endurance Series, Laurens Vanthoor was behind the wheels of the #1 Audi R8 LMS ultra. In the series opener at Monza he finished fourth. At Silverstone he took a first podium with a fine thrid place. The third round at the Paul Ricard was a hard one with only a thrirteenth place overall. In all three events he shared the car with Cesar Ramos and Marc Basseng.
Round 4 of the Blancpain Endurance Series was the prestigious Spa 24 Hours. Laurens Vanthoor had the perfect weekend in the Belgian Ardennes. A storming pole position on Friday then his first outright victory in the series stellar event in his home race with a Belgian team. Double points collected and Pro-Cup series lead. He shared the winning #1 Audi R8 LMS ultra with fellow Audi factory drivers René Rast and Markus Winkelhock.
Vanthoor won the season finale at the Nürburgring as well. He was joined by Cesar Ramos and Christopher Mies dominated the very wet 1000km endurance event. In the end Vanthoor clinched the 2014 Blancpain Endurance Series Pro-Cup drivers' title.
Laurens Vatnhoor performed very well in the Blancpain Sprint Series as well. The series which replaced the former FIA GT Series. He drove the #1 Audi R8 LMS ultra along with Cesar Ramos. Vanthoor was fast but faced a lot of bad luck in the seven-roun SRO organised series. The Belgian ace collected no less than five race victories, four in qualifying races and one maine race.
The two drivers won the qualifying race in the season opener at Nogaro but were unlucky in the main race. They took a fourth place in Brands Hatch main race. In Zandvoort they took a podium in the qualifying race but again the faced bad luck in the main race. Victory again came at Slovakia Ring in the qualifying race and yet again an extreme bad luck pushed them outside the Top 10 in the main race. In Portimao Vanthoor and Ramos took a fourth place in the qualifying race and eighth in the main one. At Zolder Vanthoor dominated the qualifying race and finished third in the main race.
The season finale in Baku was an all Laurens Vanthoor affair. Pole position race victory in the qualifying race and again in the main race. Vanthoor along with Cesar Ramos were the strongest in the special Baku World Challenge with their #1 Audi R8 LMS ultra.
These great results and performances were enough to give Laurens Vanthoor the overall Blancpain GT Series drivers' championship title.
Laurens Vanthoor raced in the famous Nürburgring Nordschleife too this season with some impressive performances. He won the first race of the 2014 VLN Endurance Championship with Phoenix Racing. Later he returned with the same team for the prestigious Nürburgring 24 Hours. Unfortunately, the car was destroyed in the early stages with a DNF in the end.
Laurens Vanthoor took part in Macau GT Cup with a factory supported Audi R8 LMS ultra along with Mr Macau Edoardo Mortara. The two Audi factory drivers raced for Audi race experience and dominated the qualifying session. Mortara took pole position and Vanthoor secured a stunning second place. On race day the pair of Audis were defeated by the two works Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3s, with Vanthoor taking a strong fourth place in his GT debut in the demanding Grand Prix of Macau.
2014 was simply a phenomenal year for Laurens Vanthoor with the Audi brand. The young Belgian driver is going from strength to strength and he is clearly one the best GT drivers worldwide.
Photo credit: Audi Media