AT THE YOUNG age of 25, Kiwi sensational Earl Bamber sits as one of Porsche’s brightest young drivers on their factory roster of stars – one that includes current World Champion Mark Webber.
The young gun from Wanganui on New Zealand’s North Island has swept all before him for the Stuttgart brand in the last three years, winning the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia Championship twice, the Porsche Supercup once and performing strongly in a host of events in the World Endurance Championship and US-based United Sportscar championship for the factory.
He’s also had success in Australia too – he teamed with Stephen Grove to win the Elite class at the Porsche Rennsport Festival in 2013 before reuniting with the team the following year to win their class at the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.
Bamber returns to Grove Racing next February where he will again share a Porsche 997 GT3 Cup Car with the team owner / driver and Volvo V8 Supercar star, Scott McLaughlin.
After winning LeMans this year with Niko Hulkenberg and Nick Tandy, Bamber could be forgiven for demanding an outright drive in any race he contests: but that’s not how the affable young Kiwi thinks.
With thanks to Grove Racing, here’s what Earl has to say about returning to the Mountain and the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour – in his own words.
BAMBER ON BATHURST
“I can’t wait to go back to the Bathurst 12 Hour, I wanted to do this race last year but unfortunately I couldn’t with my schedule. In 2014 with the Grove team we managed to take the class victory, so I have very fond memories of the track: it’s an amazing place and it is also amazing to drive a Porsche there so I’m really, really looking forward to being back there.
“Why am I back for the Bathurst 12 Hour? I just love racing, I always love driving, I love Bathurst and it was an incredible experience. It’s great to be back with the Grove team, too. Some people might ask ‘why do I drive a Cup Car there instead of a full-spec GT3?’.
“I remember back in 2013, when I just started Porsche Cup driving, Steve was the guy who gave me a chance to come to Australia and join him at Rennsport and we got a podium there first time out. Then he gave me the first chance to drive at Bathurst with him and I said ‘When I’m available, that you know if you want me to come drive you’ve got the first option.’
“It’s really, really nice to be back with Steve and the whole team and going back down there again. It’s going to be great to be reunited with the boys.”
BAMBER ON THE KIWI INVASION
“I think we’ve got to be careful – you know the boss is still Australian but the team is always half taken over by Kiwis, so maybe we can convince him to have a Kiwi flag on there instead of an Australian! I’m looking forward to be teamed up with Scotty, I remember him from go-karting and I’ve been watching him in the V8 supercars and he’s done a fantastic job.
“The engines in a different place for him but I know he was quick there last year with the team and he’s always quick in the two driver (ProAm) races, so I’m really looking forward to teaming up with him and hopefully he can give me some tips for Bathurst because he’s pretty quick around there.”
ON THE RACE
“Thoughts on the race? I mean it’s a 12-hour race: it is long and it’s always a challenge and at Bathurst anything can happen so you know we just have to focus on our job, prep the car well, do our homework between the team, get a good setup and execute well.”
“Coming from LeMans this year and winning it helps me prepare for Bathurst. My full time job now is doing endurance racing, so 12 hours races are almost short for us but it’s the age old thing in endurance racing: when you’re leading the race is too long, and when you’re behind the race is too short so I’m looking forward to the challenge of Bathurst again and looking forward to doing a 12 hour race again, especially with the team.”
“I think Steve’s driving has improved since last time I saw him and Scotty will be a strong team mate. It’s all about the team work as well, we can’t be individual drivers out there – it’s really got to be a team, so I’m looking forward to getting back with the boys and going from there.”