TALKING LONE STAR LE MANS WITH PORSCHE NORTH AMERICA
Porsche North America’s Earl Bamber and Nick Tandy have had a pretty huge year. Not only are they contending for a title in the TUDOR Championship, they were selected to drive for Porsche in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Formula 1’s Nico Hülkenberg. The trio went on to win one of the most prestigious races in motorsports, and now Earl and Nick are coming to COTA for Lone Star Le Mans. They sat down for a couple questions from the COTA crew.
After Virginia, you guys are in the thick of the GT Le Mans title hunt. What do you have to do to keep Porsche North America on top through these last two races?
Earl Bamber: We had a good test leading up to the event. The team’s been in a really positive mood and we’ve got good momentum with three victories in-a-row. It’s going to be a big fight at COTA, but let’s hope we can stay on top and stay in front of the Corvettes and BMWs.
Nick Tandy: Realistically we need to be around the No. 3 car for the next two events. We can afford to finish behind them both times as long as they don’t win both races! The aim is for a very good run at COTA so that the pressure is eased for the final round.
You were selected by Porsche to race an LMP1 at Le Mans this year and ended up taking P1. How did it feel to win such a prestigious race?
EB: To be selected for the LMP1 program was absolutely amazing. It was a real honor to represent Porsche to begin with in the world’s biggest motor race and then to win was absolutely crazy and completely unexpected from us. We knew we could get a good result and probably be on the podium, but we didn’t quite expect that we’d win, especially by one lap.
NT: The biggest honor of my whole career was in 2013 when Porsche selected me to be part of their factory driver roster. That means you are a full professional racer and will be competing at the highest levels. To then be asked to drive the 919 Hybrid at Le Mans, as well as the big effort that Porsche put into the TUDOR series for this year was just icing on the cake. Actually, winning the big race with Porsche is something else very special indeed.
Your Le Mans teammate, Nico Hülkenberg, races in Formula 1 for Force India. What was the dynamic like adding a teammate from another series?
EB: It was a good dynamic to have Nick and myself coming from GT racing and then Nico coming from Formula 1. We sort of merged in the middle and came up with some good ideas to drive the prototype car. I don’t think that was intentionally planned by Porsche to work so well, but in the end it did.
NT: The fact that we quite often race in different series with many different co-drivers meant that Nico, coming in as a new part of the team, was nothing out of the ordinary. The good thing is that he is a fantastic professional driver and that’s why Porsche hired him. The chemistry has been good since we all first tested together and obviously it showed in Le Mans!
Earl, you claimed the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup Championship right here at COTA last year. You ready to be back?
EB: I have good, fond, memories there. We started from the pole and finished second. Hopefully, my skills and everything I learned last year will help me in the RSR in the TUDOR Championship race this year.
Nick, you raced at COTA during Lone Star Le Mans last year. What about the Circuit sticks out in your mind? Are you looking forward to getting back to Austin?
NT: I can’t wait for the race, mostly because the season is coming to a close and we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but COTA is a great circuit to race on. The Esses are amazing in a high-downforce car, but really I prefer the last section with the long Turns 16-18 leading directly into the very tricky Turn 19. You can give up in some parts to be good in the next but you have to try to keep the rhythm and flow up in this section.
Earl and Nick hit the track at COTA this weekend for Lone Star Le Mans. Don’t miss the biggest sports car weekend of the year. Tickets available at circuitoftheamericas.com/LSLM.