BAMBER WINS SECOND FORMULA MASTER RACE AT IMOLA Young New Zealand racing driver Earl Bamber (ADM Motorsport) celebrated his 100th single-seater race in style early this morning (NZ time) winning the second race at the seventh round of the 2008...
BAMBER WINS SECOND FORMULA MASTER RACE AT IMOLA
Young New Zealand racing driver Earl Bamber (ADM Motorsport) celebrated his 100th single-seater race in style early this morning (NZ time) winning the second race at the seventh round of the 2008 European Formula Master championship at the Imola circuit in Italy from Czech Josef Kral and top Swiss driver Fabio Leimer.
After quickly dispatching pole-man Kral, fellow front row starter Bamber was never headed, pulling out a 3.8 second advantage early on and eventually crossing the finish line 6.089 ahead.
Third was Leimer, fourth Latvian Harald Schlegelmilch and fifth championship title prospect Michael Ammermuller from Germany.
It was another deeply impressive performance from 18-year-old kart-turned-car star Bamber, who claimed two third places in his northern hemisphere debut at a round of Italy's Formula Master championship at Mugello last weekend and qualified sixth then finished seventh in the first race at the seventh round of the main European championship at Imola on Saturday.
As well as winning the race outright, Bamber also claimed best rookie honours and with his ADM Motorsport teammate Tomas Pivoda he won the Best Team-mates award.
Afterwards Bamber said that, bar a not quite perfect start in which he got a little bit much wheelspin, the race could hardly have gone better.
"The car was very good, particularly in the early laps and for that I'd like to say a big thank you to the guys in the ADM Motorsport team. Because the car was so good I was able to put my head down and build a bit of a buffer. I didn't quite get the start I wanted but I got a good run on Josef at the end of the first lap which allowed me to draft up to him on the straight and outbrake him into the first corner. Then it was just a matter of keeping an eye on the times and being consistent."
The race was televised live on Eurosport to millions on homes across Europe and Asia, and watching with particular interest was Peter Thompson, the Malaysian-based Irishman who is running Bamber in this year's Formula V6 Asia championship.
Bamber has a healthy points lead in that championship after a clean-sweep at the most recent round at Sentul in Malaysia and Q1-Meritus team boss Thompson says that this morning's victory in Italy will help focus attention on the world's fastest developing motorsport region.
"This is not just a win for Earl, it is a win for motorsport in Asia, proof, if you like, of the calibre of our championships and our services," he said.
Bamber first came to Thompson's notice at a Formula BMW Asia series test and Thompson was quick to sign the then 15-year-old Kiwi for the 2006 Formula BMW Asia championship.
Bamber quickly justified the faith Thomspon put in him by winning that series and with The Pizza Company-backed Q1-Meritus team teammate James Grunwell the now 18-year-old Kiwi is currently dominating this year's Formula V6 Asia championship series.
Thompson particularly enjoyed watching his young charge catch and pass Josef Kral early in this morning's race.
"He went right round the outside of him and as the commentator on Eurosport said, obviously no one told you can't pass round the outside at Tamburelo!"
Having been running there for the past three years Bamber is also a big fan of the burgeoning Asia scene, attributing much of his almost uncanny ability to learn new circuits like Mugello and now Imola to his regular trips from his home Wanganui to the Q1-Meritus' base near Kuala Lumpur's Sepang circuit.
"The tracks here (in Europe) are so different to ours, which are all quite flat, which is why I think some of our drivers take a while to adapt to things over here. The difference with me is that since I started racing in Asia I've constantly had to learn new and newly-built tracks. And like the tracks in Europe the tracks in Asia tend to be bigger and longer with plenty of elevation changes, particularly some of the newer ones which have been built to host Formula 1 races."
Like Thompson, Bamber also believes his win this morning will reflect well on both the Asian and New Zealand motor racing scenes.
"Obviously people here are aware of Chris (van der Drift) and the fact that he's a Kiwi but when I was on the front row this morning a lot of people were asking the guys in the team who I was and where I was from? Apparently even the grid guy was saying, 'ah yes, here is Earl Bamber. We know he is from New Zealand but we don't know what he has been doing.' They must have done their homework during the race though because at the end they all knew that I have been racing in the Toyota Racing Series at home and for Q1-Meritus in Formula V6 Asia this year." Fellow Kiwi Chris van der Drift continues to lead this year's European Formula Master series points standings but after qualifying quickest and finishing second to Leimar in Saturday's race he was forced to sit out the second race when a driveshaft failed on the way to the grid, meaning the 2008 title will not now be decided until the final round at Monza over the October 04-05 weekend.