Earl Bamber Motorsport and Team Carrera Cup Asia, with support from Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific, are both aiming for class and overall victories on the Mountain this weekend for the 2019 Bathurst 12 Hour (31 January – 3 February).
The Australian blue-riband event also acts as the first round of this year’s Intercontinental GT Challenge, in which Porsche is set to have a presence at all five races from around the world.
Announced at the Porsche Experience Centre in Shanghai earlier this month, New Zealand outfit Earl Bamber Motorsport will run a pair of Māori-inspired Porsche 911 GT3 R on its Bathurst 12 Hour debut.
Earl Bamber will not be on driving duty and instead is expanding his team manager role into GT3 racing, following his first foray into the position in the 2018 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia. The New Zealander is twice a class winner of the event and will use his experience to help give the two Porsche factory crews the best chance of victory.
On board the #911 Porsche 911 GT3 R is Mathieu Jaminet, who has been involved in several high-profile races since being made Porsche Young Professional in 2017, including an outing at the 2018 FIA GT World Cup in Macau with Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific.
The Frenchman is joined by compatriot Romain Dumas, who just missed out on the win here last year after a late red flag. 2016 Porsche Supercup champion Sven Müller is the final addition, as he prepares to debut at the Mount Panorama Circuit.
In the sister #912 Porsche Matt Campbell returns, as the Australian aims to add an overall victory to his 2017 Bathurst 12 Hour Pro-Am win. Dirk Werner, who was team-mate to Dumas last year, joins the 23-year-old, with 2017 Porsche Supercup runner-up Dennis Olsen completing the line-up.
Additionally, Team Carrera Cup Asia will make its second Bathurst 12 Hour appearance, fielding some of the best performers from the 2018 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia campaign in the #23 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (Type 991).
Spearheading the squad is Porsche Carrera Cup Asia’s only three-time champion Chris van der Drift, who was in a battle for the class lead before being forced to retire here last year. 2018 Pro-Am champion Bao Jinlong and event specialist Paul Tresidder, as well as top-performing Talent Pool driver from last year, Philip Hamprecht, join the New Zealander.
The team will compete in the Porsche Cup Class B category, which always provides close racing around the tight and undulating 6.213 km circuit.
Comments before the race
Fritz Enzinger (Head of Motorsport): “Bathurst marks the start of the Intercontinental GT Challenge. This year we aim to go all-out in this worldwide endurance series for GT3 vehicles. We’re contesting the first round with the tried-and-tested Porsche GT3 R. This car has underlined its potential impressively, achieving many successes on different racetracks. With our strong driver crews and the well-structured, regional teams, we should be well positioned to take on the tough fight against many other brands.”
Sebastian Golz (Project Manager 911 GT3 R): “Although Earl Bamber’s team is still relatively new, it has all the ingredients to be successful at such a long-distance race: a top-notch driver line-up and perfectly prepared cars. The other customer teams are also well positioned. I’m confident that all four Porsche 911 GT3 R will be in a position to bring home a podium result. Bathurst is a very special race. If you get through without mishaps and ultimately have the fastest driver at the wheel, then anything is possible. Our major goal is to send our proven 911 GT3 R into retirement with one last victory.”
Romain Dumas (Porsche 911 GT3 R #911): “The event, the track, the environment – this is what impressed me last year. It makes me all the more excited for this year’s race. My teammates Mathieu and Sven don’t yet know this special track, however they’ll quickly familiarise themselves with its quirks. Our car is proven. Bathurst will be the last time we compete with the 911 GT3 R in this specification. Looking at the championship, it’s important to harvest as many points as possible here and not immediately fall behind.”
Sven Müller (Porsche 911 GT3 R #911): “I’ve never been to Bathurst so it’s all new for me. I practiced in the simulator and noticed that it’s an incredibly beautiful racetrack, which needs precision and courage. We know the Porsche 911 GT3 R inside out. Our team is well prepared. We have three works drivers sharing a car at this event, so of course expectations are high. We want to win.”
Mathieu Jaminet (Porsche 911 GT3 R #911): “For years I’ve watched the Bathurst race on television in fascination, and now I get the chance to drive there. At the end of the 2018 season I literally begged Porsche to let me race there. I’m thrilled and super motivated. It’s interesting to have my works driver colleague Earl Bamber, with whom I contest the endurance races in the IMSA series, as my team boss in Bathurst. From teammate to team boss within a week – that’ll be fun.”
Dirk Werner (Porsche 911 GT3 R #912): “Bathurst was the absolute highlight of my 2018 season. The racetrack is fantastic, a unique challenge. Driving there is huge fun and now that I have more experience it’ll be even better this year. We’re driving our proven GT3 car for the last time, it’s a final performance. It’s always a special experience to begin the year with a world tour – from Germany via Daytona to Bathurst and home again.”
Dennis Olsen (Porsche 911 GT3 R #912): “It’ll be the last big outing for the old generation of the Porsche 911 GT3 R. This alone makes our race in Bathurst particularly delightful. Earl Bamber’s team will give their utmost. With Dirk Werner and Matt Campbell, I have two world-class teammates joining me in the cockpit. Both know the racetrack well. I have to learn fast and perhaps turn a few more laps during practice. If I can find my rhythm quickly then we can fight for a front spot.”
Matt Campbell (Porsche 911 GT3 R #912): “I’m so excited about my home race in Bathurst. Together with the 24 Hours of Le Mans, it’s definitely the highlight of the year for me. The extraordinary circuit at Mount Panorama is the best racetrack in the world. I’ve raced at Bathurst many times and I’ve been successful there. I hope that we can compete amongst the frontrunners this year so that we can give last year’s Porsche 911 GT3 R a fitting send-off into retirement.”
Kévin Estre (Porsche 911 GT3 R #12): “This’ll be my fourth time contesting the Bathurst 12 Hour. I’ve always had a great time there, but unfortunately not a lot of luck. We were really close to a podium result last year, so this time it should finally work. I’m thrilled to be driving with “CJ” again. And we’ll be supported by our new Porsche Junior Jaxon Evans. He knows this track well because he’s competed in other categories there. Hence, we’re well prepared to race on one of my absolute favourite circuits.”
Marc Lieb (Porsche 911 GT3 R #540): “We climbed the podium at this wonderful event in 2018. We’re hoping for such a success again this year. I’m driving with Tim Pappas and Jeroen Bleekemolen again so that will work very well. I think the event is one of the most beautiful in the world. The spectators are great, the race is really demanding, and the track is simply fantastic. I’m really looking forward to my fourth race in Bathurst.”
Earl Bamber, Team Manager of Earl Bamber Motorsport, said: “It was a very special moment to launch in Shanghai. It’s awesome to have a mega team of guys behind us, they’ve been incredible the whole way. Now we’ve just got the finishing touches left before we get going. We’ve had a lot of positive feedback for the livery, it’s something special for the fans that everybody absolutely loves. So now we need to perform on the track and make sure we really cross off everything to get the best result possible for Porsche.”
Chris van der Drift, Team Carrera Cup Asia driver, said: “When there’s a chance to race at Bathurst I’d never turn it down, so thanks to Paul [Tresidder] and PCCA I am back here again. We have a quicker car this year with the Gen 2 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. I think we have a strong line-up driver wise and a good team behind it, so all I am thinking about now is crossing the finish line on Sunday afternoon!”
Paul Tresidder, Team Carrera Cup Asia driver, said: “We arrived on Wednesday and saw the enthusiasm of all the guys who work on the car. Another Bathurst 12 Hour is here and I’m really looking forward to it. Chris, Philip, Bao and I did the track walk, and it was so good to see the ones who haven’t raced here before so positive. I really have a good feeling about this weekend and the race.”
Alexandre Gibot, Head of Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific, said: “We are all confident of a strong result in both classes this weekend. Victory is the aim and Earl Bamber Motorsport will certainly be in the mix with its Porsche factory line-ups. It’s great to see how Earl and his squad have prepared for this event, I’m sure they will do a fantastic job. We are delighted to also have Team Carrera Cup Asia back at Mount Panorama. Last year, the team showed promise and will be stronger than ever when we get underway this weekend. Porsche Motorsport Pacific Asia is looking forward to supporting both teams and wish them a great race.”