Two-time overall Le Mans winner Earl Bamber says he is looking forward to the next chapter in his sportscar racing career as part of Chip Ganassi Racing’s Cadillac DPi programme, praising his new employer.
Bamber has been signed to partner Alex Lynn for the full 2022 IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship as part of Ganassi’s expanded two-car effort in the championship’s top class. At Daytona, he will be joined by Marcus Ericsson and Kevin Magnussen.
The New Zealander joins Ganassi after a long stint as Porsche factory driver, a tenure that saw him win the 24 Hours of Le Mans overall twice, win the LMP1 world championship in 2017 and IMSA’s GTLM title in 2019.
As part of Porsche’s works GT line-up, he often fought battles on track with Ganassi’s factory Ford GT operation. Now at age 31, the popular Kiwi is set for a new chapter in his career on the other side of the fence.
“Chip Ganassi Racing is one of the teams that you want to drive for in your career,” Bamber says. “It’s refreshing to be here. I followed Scott Dixon through most of my junior career, and now it’s amazing to be able to work with Scott and just learn from guys like both the Mikes [Hull and team manager O’Gara] and obviously Chip.
“We fought against them for many years in GTLM and it’s exciting to now see the ‘other’ side and how they do things. It’s a place I can learn and grow as a driver.”
Bamber has relatively little experience racing in IMSA’s DPi prototype, having exclusively competed in GT machinery following the closure of Porsche’s LMP1 programme at the end of 2017.
He was signed to CGR’s line-up following a test two weeks ahead of the 2021 season finale at Petit Le Mans without a single DPi start under his belt, being the only driver of the team’s full season crew to not have raced a DPi at that point.
Even Alex Lynn, who almost exclusively raced in the FIA World Endurance Championship in years prior, has a DPi win on his record from a one-off appearance with Wayne Taylor Racing at Sebring in 2017.
That changed when Kevin Magnussen fell ill prior to Petit Le Mans, which led to Bamber unexpectedly filling in and joining Renger van der Zande and Scott Dixon aboard the #01 Cadillac to finish a creditable fifth. As managing director Mike Hull explained, his late call-up impressed many, including Ganassi himself.
“He tested the car two weeks prior to Petit, but there was no plan for Earl to race there,” Hull explained. “So, his audition was a 10-hour race in front of everybody including his fellow teammates and Chip.”
“Chip said at some point, ‘Man, that Bamber guy is pretty good.’ And I said, ‘Chip, remember we talked about that. That’s why we hired him!’”
“Earl is a really terrific, knowledgeable race car driver. It was evidenced by what he did for us at Petit, but we knew that before.”
“By the mere fact that he’s won Le Mans twice in a prototype car is certainly a good résumé item, but we need to continue to fill that résumé up. So that’s what we’re planning to do.”