Earl Bamber felt his pace exceeded expectations following a first official run out in a Supercar at the Winton SuperSprint.
The two-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner jumped aboard Shane van Gisbergen’s Red Bull Holden Racing Team Commodore in two practice sessions at Winton to accrue crucial miles ahead of the Pirtek Enduro Cup.
Bamber ran in the 30 minute Additional Driver practice where he ended up 10th in sopping wet conditions at the rural Victorian circuit.
That was scheduled to be his only outing before van Gisbergen handed the car over for laps in a wet Practice 1.
The factory Porsche driver finished that session eighth fastest, running amongst the main game drivers.
His only previous Supercars outings came in 2010 with Stone Brothers Racing before a run in a Super2 car at Winton in February this year.
“First session, it was really good,” Bamber told Speedcafe.com.
“A few co-drivers were maybe looking at it negatively because it was raining but judging by the races they had in the enduros last year with the amount of rain in Bathurst and the Gold Coast, I think it’s not a bad thing to get two good wet sessions under your belt and not go into a race wide-eyed.
“The second session was a bit unexpected. I was sitting in the back of the garage actually just having a yarn to (Greg) Murphy about comparing notes because he was in the first session, then Shane got out and said ‘I’m not learning too much’.
“As it’s going to be dry later he said, ‘you can go for another steer’ so I went upstairs and got changed and went back out.
“I think we ended up P8 which was pretty cool, I didn’t expect to be there.
“It was with all the main drivers, it was really good to be able to get out after the session and compare to Jamie (Whincup) and Craig (Lowndes), those guys and sort of keep the learning process going because there’s a huge amount to learn with the cars.
“It’s nice to be sort of, not two seconds off and sort of close to the pace.
“In the end, the goal coming here is not to finish 10th at Bathurst and in the co-driver races, the goal is to win some of these.
“The pressure will also be there later in the year because Shane will hopefully be fighting for the championship as well. The more miles the better and coming here is important.”
Bamber’s pace prompted praise from van Gisbergen who felt his countryman acquitted himself well given the circumstances.
“Today Earl did the first practice session which was awesome,” said van Gisbergen.
“It was great to have him here, all the way from his base in Kuala Lumpur and he did a stellar job which was good to see.
“We weren’t learning too much with car set-up (Practice 1) so we put Earl back in and he ran that session and he did a good job again.
“It was good to let him maximise the amount of laps as it was a long trip here for him and he was eighth against the main drivers so he was pretty competitive.”
Bamber is not expected to drive a Supercar until September with the Kiwi set to miss the Additional Driver session at Queensland Raceway due to his factory Porsche GT commitments in North America.