Bamber: I’m still buzzing, this is unbelievable
New Zealand sensation Earl Bamber is struggling to come to terms with the magnitude of his effort to win the Le Mans 24 Hour at his first attempt.
Bamber became the first Kiwi to win the French classic since the late Bruce McLaren and compatriot Chris Amon 1966 when their Ford GT40 ended Ferrari’s domination.
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The Porsche 919 Bamber drove with F1 racer Nico Hulkenberg and Nick Tandy dismantled Audi’s stranglehold on the race which stretched to five consecutive wins and added to a total of 13 from the last 15 stagings of the race the Ingolstadt maker managed prior to yesterday.
The young Malaysian-based Kiwi has been on a meteoric rise in the Porsche world, winning consecutive Asian Carrera Cup titles and the Porsche Supercup ahead of an elevation to the marque’s LMP1 ranks.
“I have no words for what we just did. I don’t think I understand what we just did,” Bamber said.
“I’ve only slept one hour and I’m still buzzing. This is incredible.”
Bamber’s only previous experience with the legendary expanses of the 13.6km track was last year when he competed in the French Carrera Cup curtain raiser to the 24 Hour epic.
“It’s really a dream come true. The first time I came to this race last year it was my dream to drive here,” Bamber said.
“Now to drive in LMP1, I can’t believe that Porsche gave me the opportunity to drive this amazing car let alone to win it.
“The guys at Zuffenhausen and Weissach have been amazing to build such an incredible car.”
Bamber and his team-mates largely stayed clear of trouble which proved the undoing of the more fancied 919 Hybrid of the runner-up #17 crew headed by Timo Bernhard, Mark Webber and fellow Kiwi Brendon Hartley.
“We had a few moments here and there with traffic,” Bamber explained of the 395 laps completed by his #19 machine.
“We decided we’d forget every other competitor and we’d just try and run as fast as we can.
“And if we’re quick enough we’ll get a good result.
“We were clearly quick enough which helped but it was a huge battle through the race.”
Bamber was able to make light of the fact that he had no previous experience with hybrid technology before being signed up by the LMP1 squad, let alone the extraordinarily complex unit which makes up the 919 powertrain.
“I was telling Timo (Bernhard) that an engineer asked me last year what experience do I have with hybrid systems and I said; ‘I don’t know, I drive a Cup car’.
“And now we pull off this victory and this is really, really special.”