Campbell is best export for years says Webber

Gordon Lomas

By Gordon Lomas

Friday 10th February, 2017 - 2:32pm

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Matt Campbell and Mark Webber at the Bathurst 12 Hour where the young ace finished second outright and won his class

Retired grand prix driver Mark Webber rates Matt Campbell as one of the best Australian talents to emerge on the international stage in a long time.

Campbell leaves his country home at Warwick, south-west of Brisbane, for a new abode in Stuttgart today ahead of his elevation to the 2017 Porsche Supercup Championship.

Webber has been a valuable source of guidance for Campbell since the pair first met midway through last year.

After undertaking the daunting task of packing his bags for Europe to try his luck without a secure future in the mid 1990’s, Webber is well versed on what to expect in a foreign environment.

Speaking to Speedcafe.com, Webber says the challenge for Campbell will be out of the car rather than during the hotbed of competition in the Supercup.

Webber made his first visit to Bathurst last weekend for 22 years when he caught up with the country Queensland kid at the 12 Hour.

from left Marc Lieb, Matt Campbell, Patrick Long and David Calvert-Jones

Campbell, along with Patrick Long, Marc Lieb and David Calvert-Jones claimed second outright and the Class A Pro-Am win at the 12-hour in a McElrea Racing-run Porsche.

“He’s got his head screwed on, so that is a big part of it,” Webber told Speedcafe.com.

“The first six to eight months is going to be a big culture change for him.

“I think the driving will be the easy bit. The stopwatch will be well in hand.

“He’s one of the best talents who has gone to Europe in a long time.

“So it’s the out-of-cockpit composure and workload and even the non-workload when you don’t have the creature comforts you do in your own backyard that can be challenging the first six to 12 months.”

Webber’s sage advice has been absorbed by Campbell who brilliantly won the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia Championship last year.

“I don’t know what is in store for myself this year but I’m just taking it step-by-step,” Campbell told Speedcafe.com.

“There’s a lot of challenges ahead and its going to be a big, big year.

“He’s (Webber) done the big trip over to Europe to start racing over there.

“It’s my first time racing outside of Australia so that in itself is a big challenge.

“I’ve asked him for advice here and there and his opinion on a few things.”

Webber said that while Campbell is part of the Porsche junior program, Supercup can now expose him to a wide motorsport audience.

“There’s not many LMP1 seats in the world at the moment, so they’re pretty thin on the deck,” Webber explained when asked where Campbell’s future lied.

“Porsche-wise, they’ve obviously had some changes so they’ll be pretty settled down for a while, I imagine.

“But in terms of him showing the shop window for Porsche, but he’s also showing the shop window for everyone what he can do.

“There’s a lot of people watching him in Supercup so that’s important for him.

“GT racing, sports car racing in Europe, how far he goes, is really down to how settled, I suppose, those categories are, going forward.

“But single-seaters, obviously, is probably pretty limited.

“He hasn’t done and won’t do that in the next few years, so it’s going to be top-end racing in Europe with a roof on his head.”

Campbell admitted that he sought Webber out for advice when the opportunity first arose for him to side with Shane van Gisbergen in the Pirtek Enduro Cup this season.

While the Enduro Cup schedule avoids any clashes with the tail-end of his European campaign, Campbell went through the right channels before taking up the offer.

“I wasn’t too sure about it at first,” Campbell said.

“I sought Mark’s (Webber) opinion on it as well.

“Obviously Porsche is my goal and my aim for the future is with them and I have been quite open with them in my discussions.

“They have asked me questions as well and we went through the process but they were very helpful in every way.

“It’s going to be a fantastic year coming back to do those events (Pirtek Enduro Cup) and I’m grateful for Porsche to allow me to do that.”