Earl Bamber said his victory in the IMSA Sebring 12 Hours was “the perfect way” to bow out to Porsche despite the race being tinged with sadness knowing it was his last race for the German marque in the GT Le Mans programme.
The Kiwi had been apart of the factory Porsche GT Le Mans team since 2014, securing the class championship last year alongside co-driver Laurens Vanthoor.
However, Porsche has withdrawn its works GTLM team from the 2021 championship after the manufacturer was forced to re-evaluate its motorsport priorities due the economic aftershocks of the Covid-19 pandemic.
After an unlucky start to their title defence earlier this year, Bamber, Nick Tandy and Fred Makowiecki led a Porsche 1-2 in the final race of the season at Sebring.
It marked the third race win in succession for Porsche and two on the trot for Bamber who ended a 483-day winless drought earlier in the month at Laguna Seca. But the Kiwi insisted that despite not being able to claim another championship, the victory in Sebring was the ideal way to end Porsche’s stint in the series.
“The last race is always what you remember and a 1-2 is the perfect way to go out with this programme, right at the top step,” said Bamber.
“It’s been a fantastic seven years and we’ve built something strong with such a special team.
“Through strategy and teamwork we’ve been able to win these big races and that’s what it’s all about.”
Bamber also became one of a few drivers in the history of Sebring to finish first and second at the same time.
He shared time in both 911 RSR-19s across the 12 Hour race. Funnily enough, he was behind the wheel of the No.912 when it crossed the line 9s behind the victorious No.911 machine.
“It was a bit crazy because we had some lead-up discussions whether we should do the race with two drivers or three drivers,” he said.
“In the end, it was decided that I split. It was a very, very busy day, in and out of both cars.
“I think the biggest drama was that [the No.911] seat was a bit tighter than our one normally.
“Apart from that it was the same and everything worked the same from inside, so it was super easy to jump between the cars.
“It was my first ever time that I jumped between two cars.
“I don’t think it happens very often. The only other place where people do that is the Nürburgring, where you need four drivers.
“I think it’s the first time someone has stepped 1 and 2 on the podium here at Sebring.
“It’s very, very weird feeling as well. We were finishing second at the end of the race and Nick was leading but we were going to win anyway.”
Next year Bamber will race for the new Hardpoint EBM team in the GT Daytona class with a Porsche 911 GT3 R.