“I found it hard not being able to compete for the overall victory in Le Mans in 2016,” Earl Bamber confesses. After his monumental success in the Porsche 919 Hybrid on June 14, 2015, when together with Nico Hülkenberg and Nick Tandy he secured the brand’s 17th overall victory, he had returned to Porsche’s GT programme. But the memory of the high point of his career to date has remained fresh: “It was an overwhelming feeling, holding that cup in my hands and being applauded by so many people,” says the New Zealander. “If you were dreaming about winning Le Mans, that would normally be the moment when you’d wake up. I was amazed that in real life the dream kept going.” For the 2017 season, he is back at the wheel of the Porsche Class 1 prototype and now shares it as a regular driver with fellow countryman Brendon Hartley and old hand Timo Bernhard.
“Timo is a great guy, and two kiwis in one car – of course that’s something pretty special. Brendon and I grew up in the same kart club.” His sense of anticipation is huge, as is his respect for others in the race: “Toyota will be a really tough opponent, and our sister car will be very strong as well.”
Bamber accomplished his rise to the top tier of endurance racing in record time. As winner of the Porsche Motorsport International Cup Scholarship, one of the most wide-ranging and thorough youth development schemes in the automotive industry, in 2014 he took both the overall victory in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup and, for the second time in a row, in the Carrera Cup Asia. Time and again, he has impressed: in Barcelona when he won his début race in the Supercup; at Silverstone when he came in third despite a mistake in qualifying; at Spa when he controlled the car after a sideways skid coming out of Eau Rouge and still took the victory. And in his first race in the 911 RSR, he also put up a convincing performance, coming in second in the Petit Le Mans, the American endurance classic held at Road Atlanta. On the basis of these wins, in December 2014 he was promoted to works driver for the new season.
It was looking good. But it was going to get even better: One day before Christmas, he received an invitation to test the Porsche 919 Hybrid in Abu Dhabi in January 2015. “A tremendous honour,” he recalls. “Every racing driver in the world wanted to drive this car.” Bamber quickly got to grips with the complex prototype, was soon achieving good lap times – and was promptly put in the LMP1 squad.
Earl Bamber has chosen to take up residence in Kuala Lumpur. In terms of flight miles, the Malaysian capital sits roughly halfway between his home in New Zealand and the home of Porsche. Bamber grew up on a farm, 75 kilometres from the nearest town of Whanganui on the southern tip of the North Island. Wellington is two hours away. He has been sitting behind a wheel since the age of two. First he steered his dad’s pick-up truck as far as the post box sitting on his father’s lap, and later he drove karts and single seaters. “The development I got through Porsche was the big opportunity of my racing career,” he says. “And after the Le Mans win in 2015, I’ve reached a new level in all areas.”
Date of Birth: 9th July 1990
Place of Birth: Wanganui (NZ)
Nationality: New Zealander
Residence: Beijing (CN)
Marital status: Single
Height/Weight: 1.83 m/74 kg
Hobbies: fitness, surfing, skiing
Le Mans starts: 2 (1 overall victory)
Earl Bamber competes in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), including the Le Mans 24 Hours, in a Porsche 919 Hybrid for Porsche.
|2017||Porsche works driver WEC, LMP1|
Porsche works driver, GT
Porsche works driver
Winner Porsche Motorsport International Cup Scholarship
Winner Porsche Carrera Cup Asia (4 wins, 8 podiums)
|2012||3rd World Time Attack Challenge (overall)|
7th Superleague Formula
2nd Toyota Racing Series NZ (6 wins)
A1GP Series for New Zealand
Winner Toyota Racing Series International Championship
7th Toyota Racing Series NZ
|2006||Winner Formula BMW Asia (10 wins)|
|2005||4th Formula Ford NZ|