Interviewing Earl Bamber, the man for Le Mans
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New Zealander Earl Bamber, who is two from two and has a 100 per cent record at the Le Mans 24 Hour race as an outright winner, will next weekend try to do it again.
The twice around the clock race, still referred to on occasion as the hardest race alongside the Indianapolis 500 to win, is a long, dangerous, weird and often character-building race.
It's also probably the hardest race to get a gig at — just ask Bathurst 1000 maestro Craig Lowndes, who missed out yet again — as most teams have had to have won a top tier endurance event in the past or be invited.
Bamber got the call for his first Porsche Le Mans programme primarily on the back of winning Porsche Carrera Cup races, and a few championships along the way, with the German manufacturer.
This year, though, Bamber and co-drivers Patrick Pilet and Nick Tandy will be trying to collect the LMGTE Pro trophy, something he has tried in the past to no avail.
"My record in the LMP1 [top category and where the outright winners predominantly come from] is good, but in GT, we've struggled a bit," Bamber told the Weekend Herald.
"I seem to have had a bad run of luck in GTs and I'm hoping to change that this year. We're well prepared so far and the test went well. If we execute well and don't make any mistakes, we'll be there at the end for the podium.
"I've raced with Patrick and Nick for many years, so we work well together and are all pretty comfortable in the car, so now we're ready to go out and attack the weekend."
Although a GT car may look radically different to the prototype model Bamber achieved his two outright wins with, he is not particularly fazed by the difference. The speed difference might be a factor, though, when being chased or overtaken.
"They both have a steering wheel and four tyres and someone has to pedal them. It's not that bad. This year, there are only two LMP1 cars, so you won't see them that often. There's a few LMP2 cars but they won't be an issue, it's fighting through the GTM traffic that could be a problem.
"They are close to us speed-wise so it can make it difficult in getting past them as there's only about 10 kilowatts difference in power, so if we're on a full tank and they are on a near empty tank, it's hard to pass them," said Bamber.
The Kiwi has a full calendar. After the Le Mans 24 Hour, he heads to Germany for the Nurburgring 24 Hour race, then a week later he travels to the United States for the next round of the IMSA championship at Watkins Glen.
Bouncing back and forth between Europe and the US is challenging, as the cars might be much the same but the circuits are another story.
"The tracks are definitely different. It's just like racing in New Zealand, which to be honest is great. The fans and atmosphere are great and we get good crowds. The manufacturers are really engaged and it [the IMSA] is a healthy championship." said Bamber.
He has raced in the IMSA championship for five years with a best championship finish of fourth. This year, Bamber leads the series after four rounds.
"This year, we've got a really good car and we've made a big step forward with the crew."
- NZ Herald