World Endurance Champion Earl Bamber says racing Supercars was a dream come true and more than lived up to his expectations after a stellar performance on debut at the Rabble.Club Sandown 500.
The New Zealander partnered countryman Shane van Gisbergen at the Red Bull Holden Racing Team, recording second as part of a one-two-three result.
His 55 lap stint at the start of the Rabble.Club Sandown 500 saw Bamber climb from 11th on the grid to sixth when he handed the car to van Gisbergen, whetting his appetite for more Supercars racing.
“It’s been like a dream for a long time to be able to come and race Supercars but the calendars never managed to work out,” said Bamber, who typically races in sportscars for Porsche.
“I’ve watched the category for many, many years and it’s all stacked up, everything that you could imagine.
“The racing’s awesome, the cars are an absolute beast to drive – a lot of tyre management.”
The rough and tumble nature of Supercars racing also didn’t faze the Le Mans winner, suggesting it’s not dissimilar to racing a sportscar at night.
“You don’t see it that often on TV but especially in the GT category at Le Mans they go quite hard door to door in the night and stuff like that when you can’t see so much,” he reasoned.
“I’m a bit used to it but certainly got some welcomes to Australia out in Race 1 in the co-driver race.
“I remembered to when I first came to Australia and raced go-karts, I probably expected a little bit.
“But it’s been awesome. Really enjoyed it.”
Bamber’s performance earned praise from team boss Roland Dane, who suggested his showing demonstrated that any world class driver can be immediately competitive in a Supercar.
“We also showed that despite some of the nonsense that’s come out of next door that you don’t need to give international drivers 10 days testing to be competitive; Earl did an outstanding job,” Dane told Speedcafe.com.
“We hear these protestations that we need to give unlimited testing to people who compete in other categories (but) if they are good they will be able to get a grip of it and Earl showed that.”
Bamber credited van Gisbergen for his performance, suggesting his tutelage was a defining factor in his drive.
“Shane’s been a great mentor as well, teaching me about Supercars and everything to do,” Bamber explained.
“Without his advice to listen to it would have been a lot more difficult.
“Now (I’m) really finding my feet in the category there and can’t wait for Bathurst now, super pumped for this event.
“It’s a track that I know and now I can’t wait to get with the team and roll of from here.”
The championship heads to Mount Panorama for The Great Race from October 4-7.