Following his Round 2 victory in Shanghai, Will Bamber of FAW T2 Motorsport to share his experience during the opening weekend of the 2017 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia series, and what he’s looking forward to in the year ahead.
What was it like being out on the track? “It’s hard to put into words,” he said. “I was surprised actually, I was way more relaxed than I anticipated. Maybe its because of the long journey and all the effort put into to getting here – maybe that made it less stressful. But I just really enjoyed it this weekend. It has been seven years since I last did a full time championship back in New Zealand so I took in all the moments, I was enjoying sitting on the grid and when the lights started coming on, it was time to go to work.”
Sunday’s Round 2 was a pivotal point for the young no. 12 driver. “In Race Two, getting the start right was quite tricky. Some people you could see had a worse off start than usual because of the wet conditions, not many of us do wet condition practice starts,” he explained. “I was lucky that I was pushed by the people around me and my support crew to get as much possible track time during Test Days and also on Friday when there were wet track conditions. It was the first weekend so it was important to get as much track time as I could. Even though it destroyed a set of tyres I think it was worth it because then we had a similar direction in the race. In those kinds of conditions you can easily put a foot wrong, especially battling some of the best guys in the business. Fortunately, things fell into place for me.”
But rain wasn’t the only thing on his mind. “Picking the right moment to get through the guys was another challenge. But I knew we had a really good car, by the first lap or so I knew I had something quite special underneath me.” He was able to overtake his challengers, advancing from P4 in the starting grid to eventually take a healthy lead that he kept through the chequered flag. “It was really nice, we got a bit of a lead and I could enjoy it, I just wanted to keep going. Once I was out in front, I saw some of the battles raging behind with Andrew Tang, Philip Hamprecht and Martin Ragginger – and later I saw the video footage of the drivers going three wide on the track. They were all really pushing each other, as they pushed me. I think that bodes well for a good year.”
We asked Will if he was focused on what was going on behind him during the race, or just the road ahead. “When I went past Andrew, I was lucky because then they started fighting really hard behind me for a lap or so, which gave me a bit of a buffer. I kept on going, but obviously you check at a few points around the track if your gap is shrinking or growing, I could see a few times what was going on, but I didn’t see the three wide until after, that’s some good racing!”
For Will, the first weekend was always going to be quite special. “But in addition to the opening weekend, there are also some unique races this year I’m particularly looking forward to. Bangsaen, Thailand will be a special event for me because I’ve been doing a lot of work in Thailand, I’ve been doing some coaching in the region so I have a number of supporters there. It will be great to have them as well as some friends in town for that competition.”
For the New Zealand driver, it’s all about enjoying the ride. “You have to enjoy it, that’s the number one. I am also looking forward to sharing this experience with some really cool people. My parents will try and come for a few races, and racing with Earl [Bamber] at the World Endurance Championship later this year will be quite special. But after this weekend I could see the community in this championship is quite nice. A number of us caught up on Sunday evening and had dinner. The camaraderie was strong which is something I really look forward to as the season progresses. At the end of the day, its nice if you can go racing hard, but then enjoy your time together after, as well. Especially in the very cool locations we’ll get to go this year.”
The FAW T2 Motorsport driver clinched second place during Saturday’s Round 1, but went on to finish first in Round 2, a full 10 seconds ahead of the next challenger. His strong weekend performance secured him second place in the Overall points standings as the series heads into Rounds 3 and 4 in early June. “Not too far away until Japan,” he said. “I can’t wait.”