Earl Bamber admits contesting this year’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour was critical in him securing a Pirtek Enduro Cup Supercars drive with Triple Eight.
The two-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner will make his competitive Supercars debut when he partners countryman and close friend Shane van Gisbergen in the #97 Red Bull Holden for the three endurance races.
It presents an opportunity for Bamber, the reigning FIA World Endurance Champion, to fulfil a long held ambition to race in the Supercheap Bathurst 1000.
The deal was initially triggered by a WhatsApp message sent to Van Gisbergen which led to talks with Triple Eight boss Roland Dane regarding the enduros.
Having only previously tested a Stone Brothers Racing Ford in 2010, Bamber has very little Supercars experience heading into Sandown, Bathurst and the Gold Coast races.
Given his limited knowledge this month’s Bathurst 12 Hour campaign for Craft Bamboo Racing, which yielded a fifth place finish, is understood to have been a deal clincher for Triple Eight to sign the 27-year-old.
“The first point of contact was WhatsApp,” said Bamber, when asked how the deal came about.
“I came down to the Gold Coast and had a look around, but (Roland) didn’t say if he’d put me in, he was trying to decide between a couple of guys. They eventually made the decision to put me in, which was cool.
“I think to be honest without the track experience of doing the 12 hour I don’t think Roland (Dane Triple Eight boss) and Shane would even consider me to come here, because it’s just not possible to come to a place like this and expect to be fast.
“Because the locals know it so well, the cars are challenging to drive to a high level, so it was pretty critical when doing the deal with him to say that it would be possible to come and drive at the 12 hour.”
Bamber is not expected to receive his first taste of Triple Eight Holden ZB Commodore until the co-driver session at Winton from May 18-20.
He is also set to miss the co-driver outing at Queensland Raceway due to a clash with his Porsche GT commitments in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Despite the restricted running, the Kiwi is confident he will have enough track time to get up to speed in Supercars machinery.
He is also hoping to boost his miles around the Gold Coast by embarking upon a one-off drive in the Porsche Carrera Cup Supercars support race.
“For me its a big priority to go well at the 1000 and ultimately I think Shane has the same idea, so trying to do as much track time also try and learn Sandown some how as well,” he added.
“I think it should be quite enough time to get up to speed and stuff like that. I’ll find as many ways as I can to drive ten laps here and there in cars.
“Even the idea was mooted to go do the Cup race at Gold Coast as well because it worked quite well for Andre (Heimgartner) in Supercars as well, so that’s an idea.
“I’ve got permission from Porsche to be able to do the Cup race so now I’ve just got to ask someone nicely far a car and borrow one for the weekend.”