Earl Bamber Motorsport is “likely” to defend its win in the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, with additional Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli rounds being targeted for 2020, according to team principal Earl Bamber.
The Malaysian-based, New Zealand-flagged team claimed victory in its GT3 debut this year before going on to contest the Suzuka 10 Hours in support of Porsche’s IGTC title quest.
Bamber, who along with fellow Porsche factory driver Laurens Vanthoor claimed the IMSA GT Le Mans class championship this year, said they have its 2019-spec Porsche 911 GT3 R “ready to go” and are just awaiting on final details.
“We’d like to go to Bathurst to try and defend it again,” Bamber told Sportscar365.
“We’ve been playing in Sepang quite often, doing quite a lot of testing recently. Since Suzuka we’ve done 20 hours of running in full race capacity, you could call it mini endurance tests.
“We’ve just been going through the motions of that, continuing to build it up.
“It is a challenge to build it up. Obviously to go from [Carrera] Cup, Suzuka was a struggle but it was good because we learned a lot of good lessons from it.
“I think we’ll come out even stronger next time.
“In terms of the prep for Bathurst, we’re pretty happy with that as well. Now we just have to get the final details of driver lineups and all the normal stuff.”
The Kiwi said they could again field two cars, although the second Porsche would be in the Am class, as part of a proposed full-season IGTC entry for a gentleman driver.
“I need another customer, to be honest,” he said. “I have one customer that wants to do the whole season but we need [more budget].”
Bamber said his “ideal” schedule next year would be to add the Total 24 Hours of Spa to its schedule, alongside a return to Suzuka, as well as a potential GT World Challenge Asia campaign that is also being considered.
“As a team, the big ones you want to win are Bathurst, Spa and in Asia it’s Suzuka,” he said.
“Also commercially, certainly Bathurst and Spa make the most sense in terms of sponsorship and stuff like that.
“So that’s another side of the business we’re trying to now fire up, the commercial aspect to get more sponsors on board. It takes time but is coming along nicely.”
#Bamthor Lineup for Bathurst on the “Wish List”
Bamber said he’s hoping to team up with Vanthoor in EBM’s entry for Bathurst, although stressed the decision will be made by Porsche.
“It’s not up to us, ultimately,” Bamber said. “As a driver we get told where to go and then as a team owner we can request which drivers we want but it’s also not our decision.
“To be honest in IMSA last year, it worked so good with me and Laurens, and even in Macau when we were in seperate cars, I think we were strong as a Porsche pairing there because we worked well together and helped each other along.
“Working with Laurens has been fantastic. That would be great to bring that over to Bathurst, whether it’s in my own team or not, I think going with him and myself would give us the best chance to win the race.”
Vanthoor, meanwhile, told Sportscar365 that the chances are “pretty high” they’d be in a car together at Bathurst.
“To drive together in Bathurst, this is what we want to do,” he told Sportscar365. “It would be pretty cool and special.
“[Earl] made a joke to me saying that I’d have to pay the damage myself!”
Vanthoor: No Plans to Start Own Team
The Belgian said he has no plans to follow Bamber’s footsteps in starting his own team, citing his desire to maintain a life away from racing.
“I see the amount of work he puts into it, besides racing,” Vanthoor said.
“I’ve come from a family where my father used to work day-and-night and made our family have a good life. I can’t thank him enough for that.
“But I also saw the downside of it, of not being at home much and having a heart operation at 40 [years old] and stuff like that.
“I’ve felt like this for a long time. I have the chance to have a great job of my dreams. I’m already traveling a lot and the free time I have at home I like to spend it with my family and friends.
“I think it’s more than enough that what we get already to have a really beautiful life and I just want to enjoy that.
“I know Earl enjoys the racing and the work he puts into it, but he doesn’t have a wife or a kid or family like that. I think if I started a race team on the side, I’d be divorced pretty quickly!”