Earl Bamber says it is a bizarre sensation no longer being a factory driver for Porsche. But the Kiwi is enjoying his new role with his own IMSA team.
Bamber was one of six drivers released as Porsche factory drivers late last year. Following his exit, he transitioned into a customer support role with his Hardpoint Earl Bamber Motorsport team.
The team made its debut last month in the Daytona 24 Hour, racing a Porsche 911 GT3 R in the GT Daytona class. He finished a commendable tenth in class and 32nd overall.
But the event marked the first time since 2015 Bamber had not been associated with the works Porsche team.
In his latest Sportscar365 column, Bamber says the start of this year left him with an unusual feeling. However, he insists his new venture with Hardpoint EBM presents the chance to try something fresh.
“I’ve returned to America for my sixth year of racing, but many things will be new and different for me this year,” Bamber said.
“The first major change for me is that after six fond years with Porsche, I am no longer driving with them as a factory driver.
“It’s a strange sensation, having been with the brand for such a significant portion of my career and winning so many major races and championships together.
“But this is also a great opportunity to try my hand at something a little different and focus on new goals.”
EBM has had a strong presence in GT racing closer to home, with most of its success coming from Asia with the Porsche Carrera Cup.
Now, the team’s expansion into the United States with tilts in both the IMSA WeatherTech Championship and the North American Carrera Cup has Bamber smiling.
“Seeing my own motorsport team that my brother (Will) and I started in Asia competing overseas in an American championship makes me want to pinch myself.
“I can’t wait to see all of our cars line up on the grid in Sebring in a few weeks.
“I’ve been looking forward to returning to the IMSA championship for another year, this time driving for my own team with my brother on the timing stand – it’s a pretty special situation and it’s awesome to be able to share the experience with Will.”
The next round of the IMSA WeatherTech Championship will be the Sebring 12 Hours on March 20.