This weekend, Mathieu Jaminet and Laurens Vanthoor are racing together in an attempt to bring home a Rolex 24 At Daytona victory for Porsche in the No. 6 Porsche Penske Motorsports 963. Two years ago, however, they were locked in an intense battle for the inaugural IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTD PRO victory on two different teams, and it produced one of the most memorable fights in Daytona history.
Jaminet was driving the 911 GT3 R for Pfaff Motorsports along with Matt Campbell and Felipe Nasr. Vanthoor was in the KCMG Porsche 911 GT3R with Patrick Pilet, Dennis Olsen and Alexandre Imperatori. For the final two hours, the battle between Jaminet and Vanthoor raged, with Jaminet ending up in front for the final stint and trying to hold off Vanthoor.
Two laps from the end, Vanthoor attacked Jaminet on the outside in Turn 1, cut back inside at Turn 2, got alongside in Turn 3 and finally, after several incidents of contact as the two Porsches went side-by-side in the Kink, took the lead. Jaminet wasn’t done, however, as he attacked in Turn 3 to take the lead back on the final lap.
As they headed into the Le Mans chicane, Vanthoor pulled alongside again and the two had side-to-side contact with Vanthoor getting the worst of it and going into a half-spin. Jaminet continued to take the victory for Pfaff. Had they tangled more intensely, though, victory would have been handed to the Risi Competizione Ferrari.
“Those last two hours have been maybe the most stressful of my life,” Jaminet said at the time. “I mean, what a crazy fight with Laurens. We all know how good he is — one of the best GT drivers out there in the world. We had a great fight. It was sometimes on the limit, maybe even over.”
What Jaminet remembers now, though, is the moments after the checker.
“[I remember] the celebration afterwards coming into the into the pits, because, honestly, crossing the line, I didn’t know I won,” he recalls. “I was exhausted from the battle. I wasn’t sure if I had a penalty — I didn’t even know it was the last lap at the time, I had no radio. [Then] I realized we won, but I wasn’t sure it was really happening. So all the emotions and tension really came out, when I came into victory lane and I parked the car and then I saw all my teammates shouting.”
Teammates Matt Campbell and Felipe Nasr hoist a still disbelieving Mathieu Jaminet in victory lane at Daytona in 2022. Motorsport Images
Vanthoor jokes that he remembers “crying like a baby on the in-lap,” but going on, he says he recalls everything in detail.
“It’s probably one of the most intense hours I’ve done in the race car, which in the end was not how I would have dreamed of it, but which I — and I think many other people — remember,” he says. “On one hand, it still kind of hurts. But on the other hand, what we’re doing here is putting on a show. I think we did quite well.”
In Porsche’s operation room at the track, Porsche engineers and management were about to have a heart attack as they saw the possibility of two of their drivers taking each other out and throwing away a victory.
“If Porsches are fighting, we don’t need any touches or risking cars, and especially if our drivers are racing for customers,” remembers Sebastian Golz, project manager for Porsche 911 GT3 R. “We already feared that there was a little bit of heat in between the two because both had the possibility to win. They were fighting for the victory and both driver wants to have the best for them for the team. And also it was showing, ‘I am the better one.’ They were pushing hard and everybody in the room was shouting, the heart attack was coming, and we were reaching the engineers to calm the drivers down.
“We want to have the victory, there was no question, but we need to have it in in a way that we do not risk a car. They were in the heat, they were full of fire and we have to say we are happy that we reached the result, but it could have been a different situation. But it was, I think, one of the most important fights I’ve ever seen. It was incredible.”
After the race, Vanthoor was one of the first to congratulate Jaminet. A year later, Vanthoor was in the No. 9 for Daytona with Pilet and Klaus Bachler. Today the two Porsche factory drivers today will seek victory together, along with Kevin Estre and Nick Tandy. Should they win, any lingering bitterness from that battle of two years ago will be well and truly forgotten.