What makes a champion? When others get nervous, he keeps his head. New Zealander Earl Bamber knows what he’s capable of and so when the situation gets critical he stays cool, calm and collected. If the qualifying doesn’t run according to plan and Bamber hasn’t managed to get a decent lap in, with sometimes just 30 seconds left to the end of the qualifying session he always manages to come up with some reassuring words: “Don’t worry, I’ve got this.” And the amazing thing is that Bamber’s name then suddenly appears at the top of the time sheets. The New Zealander also achieved a top result at the final weekend of the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup in Austin: Bamber was crowned champion.
Facing tough opposition, the racing professional showed impressive performances right from the start. He arrived at the season-opening round in Barcelona as the Porsche International Cup Scholarship driver, which means he was selected as the most promising pilot from a group of the world’s best candidates from the Porsche brand trophy series around the globe. Porsche supported Bamber over the season with funding of 200,000 Euro and the 24-year-old validated this investment with successes: two pole positions, seven podium results two of which were victories, and the title after ten rounds. This marks his second in 2014: Two weeks ago he won the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia.
To guarantee success in international motorsport, Bamber focussed completely on his racing career. Instead of having a fixed abode in Europe, from April onwards he travelled from race track to race track. He slept near the team just to be as close as possible to the action – to the tracks, the mechanics, the race atmosphere. In the mornings he leapt out of bed with tussled hair and had breakfast in the team catering tent. During the day he seized the chance to learn. He talked shop with junior coach Sascha Maassen about the perfect racing line, bombarded his engineer Axel Plankenhorn with questions about data analysis, goofed around with other drivers, willingly gave interviews and afterwards chatted with the TV crew. Always eager to learn, he soaked up everything from his environment.
On the race track the pilot from the Fach Auto Tech earned respect: When he came to Barcelona as a rookie and won; when he scored third at Silverstone despite a fluffed qualifying; when he slid sideways in the Eau Rouge passage on Belgium’s Spa circuit but still managed to win the race; and when he secured the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup title in Austin.
“Earl deserves to be champion. He was consistently good over the season and has given me a great deal of joy,” said his coach Maassen summing up his impressions. “Earl is a hard worker with huge talent. You’ll be hearing a lot more about this guy,” describes team principal Alexander Fach.
Bamber grew up on a farm about 75 kilometres from the next city of Wanganui. It takes two hours to reach the closest international airport in Wellington. Bamber has sat in cars since he was three years old. First on his dad’s lap at the wheel of a pickup truck down to the mail box, later in kart and single-seater vehicles, and since 2013 in a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. So far Bamber has contested 59 races in a Porsche. “I love this car. Sometimes straight after a race I want to jump back in the cockpit,” Bamber admits. But he also knows that the job of a race driver is more than just being the fastest. There’s no better prerequisite than that for a motorsport professional. And this is what makes a real champion.