Earl Bamber is poised to take part in the 2017/18 Asian Le Mans Series season, in a deal that’s “90 percent” likely to happen, with the Kiwi also targeting a return to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship next year.
The two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner has revealed plans to team up with his brother, Will, and Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA competitor Will Hardeman in a HubAuto-entered Porsche 911 GT3 R for the four-round Asian series, which kicks off next month.
It would mark the first time the Bamber brothers have raced together in the same car.
“I know Morris [Chen] and he sponsors my brother,” Bamber told Sportscar365. “He’s wanted me to do a race with him for a while.
“And it’s the only [series] that doesn’t clash with anything.
“We’ve been talking with the Asian Le Mans to try and get their Sprint Cup going a bit more and brainstorming the idea, also with Porsche China.
“It looks 90 percent that we’re going to do it. We’ll try to get the [auto] entry for Le Mans.”
Will Bamber currently sits third in the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia championship with four wins to his credit and has been touted as one of the region’s rising stars, following in the same path of his older brother.
“He’s going for the [Porsche single-make] scholarship,” Earl said. “He’s doing the same thing as me.
“It’s going to be really cool to hopefully be his teammate. Also with Will Hardemen, because I’ve coached him for the last few years.”
Bamber and Moorespeed’s Hardeman are taking part in this weekend’s Blancpain GT Series Asia round at Shanghai, in a LKM-entered Porsche, as a warmup for the likely Asian Le Mans effort.
“I’m very excited,” Bamber said. “I was one of the guys who raised up the idea to do it.
“With the link of winning Le Mans this year, and also it’s a rising market, people are becoming more interested in it. So I think it’s also good to go there as a winner of the race to be on the grid.
“Hopefully it’s growing. It’s a championship that works, also in the Sprint Cup.
“I’ve got a lot of friends that drive Porsches that works perfect for them, as gentlemen drivers, to get involved in endurance racing. It’s something I’m supportive of.
“They’ve got a good idea and a good system they want to improve. From my side and Porsche China’s side, it’s something we want to support.”
Bamber Targeting IMSA Return
With the Porsche 919 Hybrid program coming to an end, Bamber has set his sights set on a return to the WeatherTech Championship next year with the factory GT Le Mans squad.
Bamber took part in the series with the CORE autosport-run operation in 2015-16 prior to his promotion to the LMP1 ranks.
It’s understood both Gianmaria Bruni and Laurens Vanthoor are likely to move to Porsche’s GT-Pro effort in the FIA World Endurance Championship next year, potentially opening up two full-time seats.
“My wish would be back in IMSA because I really like that championship,” Bamber said. “The goal is to come back.
“I still want to try and win Daytona. I got close in 2016; Corvette got us. Hopefully we’ll have a good result at Petit.”
He was recently confirmed in the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR for next month’s Motul Petit Le Mans, alongside Bruni and Vanthoor, and is coming off a productive two-day test at Road Atlanta.
“It’s good to be with Laurens; we get on well,” Bamber said. “For me he’s a proper racer.
“Me and him did Bathurst together [this year] and it didn’t work so well because I managed to crash the thing!
“But now, going to Petit, we did well at the test. It was good to be back with CORE. We should be in for a good race. It will be nice to race ten cars!”
In addition to his IMSA target, Bamber said he hopes to take part in the Bathurst 1000 and potentially some NASCAR road course races next year.
He said his contract with Porsche is secure “for the next few years.”