Thomas Laurent has had a mercurial sportscar racing career thus far, picked up by Jackie Chan DC Racing at 17, he’s made his way through a rapid-fire, but well-structured ladder process via LMP3 and LMP2 in Asian Le Mans Series before being named as the Silver-ranked driver in the new ‘Mighty #38’ Oreca 07 effort in the 2017 FIA WEC.
Teamed with Ho-Pin Tung and Oliver Jarvis he already has a Le Mans 24 Hours class win and overall podium, class wins at Silverstone and Nurburgring, and a Championship leading run that has just two rounds remaining for the crew to hang on and take the title.
The DSC Ed caught up with Thomas in Fuji
We’re coming to the end of your first World Championship season, at the age of 19. Give us an impression of what that experience has been like?
For the moment it has been a really good feeling almost all the way through, my first WEC, I certainly didn’t expect to be a World Championship this early, that’s for certain and then to be in the position we are right now, to have had the results that we have had, so far, for me is just a dream.
To be here. with the team-mates, and the team around us that we have, with two such competitive cars is an amazing experience.
The goal is of course is to get the job done, collect as many points as possible, to win races where possible and, most of all, with the position we are in right now, to take the Championship.
To be here. with the team-mates, and the team around us that we have, with two such competitive cars is an amazing experience
Every year we have seen you seen a step up, from LMP3 in Asia, to LMP2 in Asia and now to the new LMP2 here in the FIA WEC, that brings its own pressures?
Right now the pressure is not for us, it’s for those that have to make up the gap that we still have.
Whatever happens at the end of this season though there is a big challenge still to come into next season because with the speed you have shown very consistently throughout the year you’l be battling as a Gold rated driver and not as a ‘Super Silver’?
For sure next year I will be a Gold, a real professional driver. I will have to be at the top of my performance all of the time and I have to be ready for all that this means.
The next step is to LMP1, for sure, but for the moment that is complicated by what has happened in endurance racing recently
For me, beyond that the next step is to LMP1, for sure, but for the moment that is complicated by what has happened in endurance racing recently (the withdrawals of Audi and Porsche and with Peugeot making it clear that any return to LMP1 will not be i the near future).
And with so much upheaval, and so many potential directions for teams and options for drivers that must make it tough to come to clear decisions right now about realistic choices?
Absolutely, one thing for me though is clear. I have promised myself that if I am coming back to LMP2, and if that is in WEC then I want it to be with Jackie Chan DC Racing.
If it is to be in LMP1 then let’s wait and see! And then there is the option for a second Championship, in GT, in ELMS or perhaps in North America, in IMSA or something like that.
At 19 you have decades of a racing career head of you. How do you plan for that? Do you perhaps take a risky option that gives little immediate security but offers an opportunity to perhaps win some big races, or do you look for a safer option that gives a better chance of a longer career with less risk but possible less chance for high profile success in the short-term?
For the moment I am still young, there is time to make choices.
Every single time I have spoken to David (Cheng) about the philosophy of this team he has fielded the example of what has been achieved with you as the example of what it is that they are trying to achieve with talented young drivers into the future. You are now an example of someone that is developing a career outside the traditional ‘pyramid’, and a great example to others that follow as to what is achievable?
I guess that is true, and if we can deliver to the end of the season that is an example that can motivate others even more. And it motivates me, there is pressure, of course, but more than that there is a feeling that there is an opportunity here to achieve, to take a step, a big step. If I can help the team to make that step then I hope it helps to pay them back for the trust they have shown in me.