While all Australian eyes will be on Daniel Ricciardo at this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix at the famous Red Bull Ring, there will also be plenty keeping an eye on a young kid from regional Queensland in the Porsche Mobil 1 Super Cup support paddock.
Rookie Matt Campbell currently sits fourth in this year’s championship after three races which have been totally dominated by German Michael Ammermuller.
Although he won’t be trackside because of his own team’s commitments in Townsville, Triple Eight boss Roland Dane will have more than a keen interest in Campbell’s performances.
It was only a few weeks ago that Campbell had his first Supercar test for Dane’s Red Bull team at Queensland Raceway in preparation for this year’s Pirtek Enduro Cup alongside defending series champion Shane van Gisbergen.
While Dane was full of praise for his young charge at the test, it was not until the recent Supercars round at Darwin’s Hidden Valley, where Shane van Gisbergen struggled with a major balance issue, that the true nature of the performance became apparent.
“He was impressive in the test, but even more so when you realise we gave him a dud car,” Dane told Speedcafe.com.
“We did not realise until after Darwin that there was something wrong with it.
“I am not even sure we have told him about it, but the issue (which Dane would not elaborate on) would not have helped him in during the test.”
While people such as Porsche Carrera Cup team owner Andy McElrea, whose team fielded Campbell during his rise through the Australian Porsche ladder, were enthusiastic in their praise of Campbell to Dane, the Triple Eight boss had already made up his mind up when he saw the youngster crack out a time in practice for the Bathurst 12 Hour in 2016.
Campbell did a 2:02.29s lap in his McLaren to edge experienced European Maro Engel by 0.1s.
Ironically, Rene Rast, who was Porsche Supercup champion in 2010, 2011 and 2012, was third fastest in that session with a 2:02.44s.
“After he did that time at Bathurst I went straight down and found him for a chat,” said Dane.
“Young drivers just don’t go to Bathurst and knock out a time like that unless they have something special.
“He is just an impressive young guy.
“At our test he went out there and did the job; he wasn’t trying to audition for anything.
“He is anything but cocky, but has a confidence in his own ability and gets on with the job.
“The nipper has been impressive since he got over to Europe and I am sure he will do another solid job this weekend given his results at the Red Bull Ring in the recent German Carrera Cup races there.”