Earl Bamber Motorsport team co-owner and Porsche Carrera Cup Asia ace Will Bamber is the subject of this week’s Pirelli Paddock Pass to share insight on the team’s journey.
The New Zealander’s team, which he operates alongside brother and Porsche factory driver Earl Bamber, has been rapidly growing force in the GT3 customer racing landscape.
Bamber also talks us through the complications the COVID-19 pandemic has created.
What has it been like for you to have your own race team alongside Earl?
“Now it’s good to have some time to reflect after we hit the ground running in 2018 our of necessity to get the team up and running. It’s sort of been trial by fire in a way both starting a business and learning basic practice of dealing with people and procedures and things.
“Surprisingly enough I found it more beneficial personally for my own driving than detrimental in a way. It could be contrary to what people think in terms of distraction but Earl and I spoke a lot about it and making sure we split things up when it comes to racing that we were focussed on being a driver.
“The maturity gained from understanding how a team works was really beneficial, so to see it from the other perspective definitely gave me a better idea of what it takes to win — it’s not just the driver.
“We are the heroes at the end of the day but there’s a lot of people behind the scenes that don’t get credit.”
What are some of the unique responsibilities you have as a team owner compared to a driver?
“It’s funny being a younger guy, and Earl agrees, that we do have some experience but we’re drawing against guys that are older than us and have huge amounts of experience.
“Everyone looks to Earl and I to make a decision, whether it’s on new gear, or a process, or whatever it may be, you need to make those calls.
“There have been some hard ones, but I’m happier than ever that we’ve started to create a culture and a family as a group, it’s a family team and to try and get everybody to feel like it’s theirs is something we’ve really made important to us.”
How important is it for the team to have its own workshop in Sepang?
“We’ve had it since 2018 but it’s been more of a storage facility. Obviously motorsport in Malaysia is pretty tricky when you don’t see much of the gear all year; we’ve been playing catch up there and we have some development work scheduled to make that more efficient.
“Now with GT3 projects, there’s a lot of parts being moved around and software management and things like that.
“Once things open up again we’ll do some work and basically it will be a little hub for us, like a home, particularly for testing in the future and have it as a traditional race shop as well.”
How is the team’s GT World Challenge Asia program shaping up for this season?
“On a personal front I was in the leading car for the team for World Challenge Asia so to move from Carrera Cup to GT3 is an awesome step personally.
“Probably can’t allude to too much but there were a lot of endurance drives lined up for me as well based around SRO and Creventic.
“On the team’s perspective it just took on leaps and bounds after we secured our first car; we worked on the second and then later in the piece in January we managed to secure a third GT3 R with a long-term customer.
“[We] had one in December and that was enough and now we’ve got another two!
“For the opening race it was going to be a three-car team and a two-car full-season team and then the third car was going to be moving around and things like that with a variety of both “endurance and sprint. Once things open up we’ll officially announce all that.”
What impact has the COVID-19 pandemic had on the team?
“It was and it wasn’t a nightmare in a way. The hardest thing is with people and trying to support the guys and girls as much as possible.
“A lot of our guys are sub-contracted so we were able to sort of downscale and then unfortunately, it was a hard call to tell the guys we had to tuck it in and bunker down for this lockdown period essentially.
“We were testing at Sepang and we did one full day on the Pirelli DHE tire so that was really productive and we were ready to start the second day.
“We arrived at the circuit and one of the circuit managers said you have to pack up now and the government is closing the circuit.
“We packed up and then Earl and I were weighing up if we should get back to New Zealand because there was going to be a lockdown introduced that evening and five hours later I packed up my apartment and on my way to New Zealand.”
As a team owner, what is your number one concern as we look ahead to possibly seeing motorsports resume around the world?
“I think we’re in a little bit of a unique situation with our customers. We’re very happy with who we’re dealing with right now, the guys are brilliant, they’re part of the family and I can’t thank them enough for their support as well during this time.
“I’d say just the roll-out of how countries are going to open back up again is going to be the tricky one because everything we do is international and requires travel.
“Things could become more expensive now with freight and logistics, even airline tickets; plus quarantine periods could be tricky for drivers who are having to spend two weeks in quarantine, that’s never going to work.
“That’s going to be the hardest thing. When New Zealand opens for example in the next weeks Malaysia won’t be open so we can’t go back and get anything done, that’s going to be the bigger headache with international and container racing.
“In Europe, it might be a bit different with trucks though.”