Earl Bamber Motorsport co-owner Will Bamber says the unexpected Covid-19 lockdown has created several headaches for both himself and fellow team-owner and older brother Earl.
The kiwi team has been based out of the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia since 2018. There, the team had purchased a further two Porsche GT3 R’s alongside an existing GT3 to expand into a three-car outfit set to compete in GT World Challenge Asia championship.
But in an interview with sportscar365, Bamber said he was shocked when he arrived at the Sepang gates one day for testing, only to learn that the Malaysian government was closing the circuit, compelling the team to pack up early and debate where to head next.
For Bamber, it was a rush to arrive back home before the New Zealand government implemented their own international travel lockdown restrictions.
“It was and it wasn’t a nightmare in a way,” Bamber told sportscar365. “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 co-owner of the team, Bamber acknowledged the responsibilities he must adhere to once the racing season resumes.
But operating a program that relies heavily on international travel will make for some difficult situations, especially as different countries begin to open their borders at different times, all of which will involve varying degrees of self-isolation periods.
“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.”
The GT World Challenge Asia is still scheduled to host its season-opening round at Fuji Speedway, Japan on May 23-24.
Original interview by sportscar365.com
Main Image: Will Bamber