Laurens Vanthoor admits his “stupid” mistake in the Nurburgring 24 Hours was the only thing that spoiled an otherwise “flawless” run for the #911 Manthey Porsche crew.
Along with his teammates in the #911 Porsche 911 GT3 R, Kevin Estre, Michael Christensen and Earl Bamber, Vanthoor was firmly on course for victory when he picked up a penalty of five minutes 32 seconds for speeding in a slow zone with a little under three hours to go.
The mistake essentially handed the win to the #4 Phoenix Audi crew of Pierre Kaffer, Frank Stippler, Frederic Vervisch and Vanthoor’s younger brother Dries, who held off a charging Estre in the closing stages to secure victory.
“I just didn’t see the flag post,” admitted Vanthoor after the race. “I was fighting a slower car, I had just overtaken it and I just didn’t see [the flag]. That’s all.
“It wasn’t intentional. I’ve never got a penalty driving here. This time I just didn’t see; there’s no excuse. It was just stupid.
“A small mistake – that’s all that happened to us. The race was flawless. We were fast and there wasn’t a scratch on the car. We didn’t touch anyone, my colleagues drove perfectly.”
Estre, who set the fastest lap of the race as he tried to chase down the Phoenix Audi late on, added: “I think we showed throughout the race we were strong. We were in the lead by a large margin, which was also due to the mistakes of the others.
“It’s just the way it is. A mistake happened very quickly in traffic; especially at night it’s sometimes very difficult to see the yellow flags.
“It’s a pity for the team, but Manthey was very strong as always, and that also applies to Porsche, who gave us a mega car.”
Dries Vanthoor revealed he had a brief exchange with his elder sibling during the podium ceremony, and said he could sympathise with his error – having put the #8 WRT Audi out of last year’s Nurburgring 24 Hours in a heavy crash at Tiergarten.
"We were both a bit emotional,” the younger Vanthoor brother told Motorsport.com. “I'm very sorry for him that everything was ruined by such a pitiful mistake.
“I haven't had this before, but I've also done something to ruin the race [in the past]. I know how it feels, it's not a nice feeling.”
The 21-year-old added: "I was very nervous before I got in the car. I've never been so nervous. I also thought that Laurens would drive to the end [in the #911 Porsche].
“It was difficult to try to be fast and then also to remain flawless. I was kept informed about what Kevin did and what the difference was, it kept fluctuating a bit."