Earl Bamber will continue in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship next year but in the GT Daytona class, as part of Team Hardpoint’s new alliance with Earl Bamber Motorsport and Porsche.
The former GT Le Mans class champion will join team owner Rob Ferriol at the wheel of a Porsche 911 GT3 R for the 2021 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.
Hardpoint made the news official on Saturday morning, just hours prior to this year’s season-ending Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, in what will be the team’s final race with its Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo.
Bamber’s appointment as a driver with Hardpoint follows Earl Bamber Motorsport’s recently announced alliance with the team, which will see the two operations field cars in Porsche Carrera Cup North America next year.
It also comes following the end of Porsche’s factory GTLM effort in the WeatherTech Championship, which the Kiwi had been part of.
Entered under Team Hardpoint EBM, it will mark Bamber’s first full season in GT3 machinery.
“It’s really exciting to see the partnership between Team Hardpoint and Earl Bamber Motorsport expand into GTD,” he said.
“As a team owner, I’m very proud to see all of our hard work come to fruition.
“As a driver, I’m thrilled to stay in IMSA next year. I love the tracks, I love the competition and I love the fans. I’m going to do my best to get Rob and Team Hardpoint EBM some wins in 2021.”
Ferriol, meanwhile, returns to his roots of racing Porsches, having been a longtime member of Porsche Club of America and having previously contested IMSA’s Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama, which Bamber had served as a driver coach for.
“This is an exciting chapter not just for Team Hardpoint EBM, but also for me personally,” Ferriol said. “I’ve loved Porsches since long before I could afford one.
“When my business started to see some success a few years ago, the first gift I bought myself was a used Porsche 911.
“The first time I was on a racetrack, and the first time I went racing – both Porsches.
“So to have this opportunity to not only expand the Team Hardpoint EBM partnership into the WeatherTech series, but also share driving duties in the Porsche 911 GT3 R is a dream come true.
“When Porsche announced that the IMSA GTLM program was coming to a close, I was among the many Porsche enthusiasts who were losing their rooting interest.
“Hopefully, Earl and I can give those very passionate fans another Porsche to root for next year.”
Earl’s brother, EBM co-owner Will, joined Hardpoint mid-season as team manager, which saw the pieces begin to be put into place for its 2021 switch to Porsche machinery.
Sportscar365 understands that Earl’s longtime co-driver Laurens Vanthoor is also likely to remain full-time in the WeatherTech Championship, having been linked to fellow Porsche customer team Pfaff Motorsports.
Incentive Program Launched for Hardpoint EBM Carrera Cup Drivers
Additionally, the team will offer an incentive program for Team Hardpoint EBM drivers competing in the single-make Porsche championship next year.
Any Team Hardpoint EBM Carrera Cup driver who finishes the season in the top three in points of the Pro or Pro-Am category will earn a free test day in the team’s Porsche 911 GT3 R, and should one of the drivers win the Pro category championship, they would also earn a paid seat in the team’s Porsche for the 2022 Rolex 24 at Daytona.
“There’s nothing better than throwing it all out there and backing your own product,” said Will Bamber.
“Porsche has done that and we’re right behind them. With our joint venture Team Hardpoint EBM, it’s exciting to have that whole pyramid contained with our team.
“Porsche allows us to do that. We believe that we should be reinvesting back into the sport and in our own customers, to give them an opportunity forward beyond the trophy at the end of the year.
“Earl and I coming up, as young guys, both got opportunities. We had to push for it, but it was done by reward and merit and you just need that chance sometimes.
“Through the team car in GTD, we can do that. It’s something we’ve been trying to do globally and it should be an exciting program for all young drivers who are trying to make it as a professional.”