This weekend marks Kiwi sports car ace Earl Bamber’s first return to the IMSA WeatherTech Championship post the coronavirus-induced season suspension.
But the 29-year-old and his fellow Porsche GT Le Mans stablemates have been left galvanised after the news of the German manufacturer’s impending withdrawal from the series for 2021.
Bamber and Belgian teammate Laurens Vanthoor scored seven podiums from 11 races in 2019 as the Kiwi powered to a maiden series title.
But despite their tremendous success in the class, which includes sitting second in the standings following 2020’s sole round at Daytona back in January, both drivers will be left as free agents following the conclusion of the current season.
Citing cutbacks as a consequence of the economic turmoil that was Covid-19, Porsche will axe its funding of its two-car IMSA GT Le Mans effort for 2021.
Bamber and Vanthoor are both currently at Daytona ahead of this weekend’s return to racing with the IMSA WeatherTech 240 but admit the news of their impending redundancies only serves to motivate the team.
“We did a Zoom meeting just after the announcement with our car crew of the No. 912 and it was tough,” Bamber wrote on his recent SportsCar356 column. “You always hear and see things about other manufacturers, but you don’t think about it… until it touches you.
“Of course, Porsche never stops racing. Its strong customer program continues on in IMSA, supporting teams in the GTD category, Michelin Pilot Challenge and the Porsche GT3 Cup.
“So, for all of us, when we unload the trucks in Daytona, it will be all about winning all the GTLM championships one final time for Porsche and this amazing crew in America. Everyone is as hungry as ever to go out and finish what we have built on a high note.
“We’re counting down the hours to Daytona and can’t wait to get back on track and bring home some trophies.”
When Ford pulled the plug on its GTLM involvement back in 2019 in left the grid comprised of a mere four entries, two of which are the Porsche line-up which will also be scrubbed next year.
Consequently, a sole Corvette Racing and BMW entry will make up the GTLM grid for 2021 unless the series can entice Ferrari to run a fully-fledged championship challenge rather than the Italian outfit’s occasional wildcard entry.
However, Bamber will be far from the racing grid after his GTLM duties, with the double Le Mans winner heavily involved with his Earl Bamber Motorsport team which this year will contest the GT World Challenge Asia series as well as the Asian Porsche Carrera Cup championship.
The IMSA WeatherTech 240 of Daytona kicks of from 10 am NZT Sunday, July 5 and will be live on Sky Sport 5.
Main Image: Getty