BUSY BAMBER JOINS KIWI 'CLAN' IN ADELAIDE THIS WEEKEND A busy Earl Bamber will be part of a large Kiwi 'clan' competing at this weekend's big Clipsal 500 motor race meeting in Adelaide. However Bamber, the 17-year-old single-seater sensation...
BUSY BAMBER JOINS KIWI 'CLAN' IN ADELAIDE THIS WEEKEND
A busy Earl Bamber will be part of a large Kiwi 'clan' competing at this weekend's big Clipsal 500 motor race meeting in Adelaide.
However Bamber, the 17-year-old single-seater sensation from Wanganui, will not be driving a V8 Supercar like Shane Van Gisbergen, a Porsche GT3 Cup car like Jono Lester, or a Falcon ute like Colin Corkery.
No. He will be behind the wheel of his Opes Prime Team BRM Dallara-Mercedes Benz Formula 3 car, vying for honours at the second round of the 2008 Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championships.
Bamber - the kart-turned-car star who won the Formula BMW Asia title in 2006 and who is currently running a close second to Andy Knight in the 2007/08 Toyota Racing Series in New Zealand - agreed to a deal to run with the Opes Prime Team BRM team late last year, and competed at the first round of the 2008 Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 championship at Australia's A1GP meeting at Sydney's Eastern Creek last month.
There he made quite an impression, running second to internationally-experienced F3 drivers James Winslow and Nathan Caratti in practice, then qualified third for the first race and second for the final.
He was up to second just after the start of the first race before being run wide which dropped him back to fourth where he crossed the line.
And any chance of improving on that position - from the front row of the grid - in the second race disappeared when that race was cancelled after a torrential downpour flooded parts of the circuit.
This weekend Bamber faces an addition challenge - racing on a street circuit - though it is one the already vastly experienced young driver makes light of.
"Really, " he said this morning, "it's just another circuit. And the only difference here, especially for the guys in single-seaters, is probably visibility. At a purpose-built circuit you can usually see through most of the corners, here they'll lined with walls and we sit so low in the cars that from what people who have run here tell me it's like driving in a tunnel."
"It's the same for everyone though and I'm really looking forward to actually getting out there in the car. I've been round plenty of times on Playstation, and I walked it twice when I got here on Tuesday but nothing beats your first few laps in a car."
Bamber has hardly been out of the news in New Zealand since signing on with the International Motorsport run, TradeZone-backed A1 Team.NZL Junior Development Team, winning New Zealand's coveted Lady Wigram Trophy at the second round of the series in early January then sealing the International Series-within-a-series title with a round win at the A1GP meeting at Taupo a fortnight later.
Having dominated the past two rounds of the highly-rated series he has also closed the points gap on long-time leader Andy Knight to just 13 points with two rounds to go.
Meanwhile in Australia he currently lies fourth overall in the Kumho Tyres Formula 3 Championship with 10 points, just 11 behind round one winner, Opes Prime Team BRM teammate Nathan Caratti.
Bamber gets two practice sessions today before two qualifying sessions on Friday and a race apiece on Saturday and Sunday.
Joining on the favourites list are the drivers he raced against at Eastern Creek, Winslow, Caratti and top female driver Leanne Tander, plus 2006 series champion Ben Clucas who has returned from Great Britain especially for the Adelaide event.