Bamber joins van Gisbergen for Supercars Championship debut
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In a surprise announcement, reigning World Endurance Championship winner and dual 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Earl Bamber is set to join Shane van Gisbergen at the Red Bull Holden Racing Team for next year's PIRTEK Enduro Cup.
“To be honest, the Bathurst 1000 and going to Australia to do that race as a co-driver has been on my radar for a long time,” Bamber told Red Bull.
“Porsche has known I’ve wanted to do it, and 2018 is the first time where we haven’t had a calendar clash for the past three or four years. So as soon as I saw 2018 could be a possibility, I started to do some research.
“Shane is a good friend of mine, so we swapped some text messages and things started from there. (Race engineer) Jeromy Moore, who used to be at Triple Eight and is now in our Porsche team, he and I would always talk about Supercars.
“I was planning on coming down to Australia to be at one of the races to check it all out, but as it happened (Triple Eight boss) Roland Dane was at Fuji in Japan (for the WEC round this year), so we had a chat there. I had a gap in my calendar to come down to the Gold Coast and see things first-hand.
“At that stage, me racing one of these was just an idea, nothing more. But things obviously moved on from there, and here we are.”
Earl Bamber is set to join Shane van Gisbergen at the Red Bull Holden Racing Team. Photo / Matthew Hansen
Bamber has raced at the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour several times, including last year with a factory Porsche effort. But this will be his first time racing in a Supercar.
“The category is just so cool. I watch every race no matter where I am, and if I can’t watch it live I have a social media ban so I can catch up with it later on and watch it ‘live’ without knowing what happened.”
Bamber replaces fellow Porsche star Matt Campbell, who scored a best finish of third in the final race of the endurance season.
He and van Gisbergen were on target to finish on the podium at the Wilson Security Sandown 500 until a late puncture, while they were also on target to score big at this year's chaotic Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 until mistakes late in the race pushed them to fifth.
“The goal was to be in a car that’s in contention to win, and being at Red Bull HRT, there’s no better team for that,” said Bamber.
“You’re in the top seat, you have the biggest chance to win, and that’s a big incentive as well as a responsibility. Between Shane and Jamie (Whincup), they have two of the top guys on the grid, so the goal internally is to win the big races, and especially Bathurst.
“That’s what I wanted.”