Photo: Kelly Grove Racing

Le Mans winner to join Andre Heimgartner for Bathurst 1000

Kelly Grove Racing has recruited two-time Le Mans 24 Hour winner and World Endurance Champion Earl Bamber to join fellow New Zealander Andre Heimgartner for this year’s Bathurst 1000, finalising the team’s line-up after it was announced David Reynolds would reunite with Luke Youlden.

Bamber will make his second start in the 1000 after racing in the 2018 edition with Shane van Gisbergen at Triple Eight, finishing fifth after coming home in second place in the earlier Sandown 500.

No stranger to endurance racing, Bamber has been a part of the Porsche Motorsport family since 2013, winning Le Mans in the LMP1/overall class in 2015 and 2017. He joined up with new KGR owner Stephen Grove to take Class B wins in both the 2014 and 2016 Bathurst 12 Hour races before his Earl Bamber Motorsport team won the race overall in the 2019 edition.

Speaking of the announcement, Bamber says he’s keen to take part in the Great Race with another Kiwi and his first taste in 2018 led to his desire to return this season.

“I’m thrilled to be joining the guys at Kelly Grove Racing for this year’s Bathurst 1000. For me success at Mount Panorama in the 1000 is one of the items on my racing bucket list and to do it with André who’s a fellow Kiwi would be fantastic,” Bamber said.

“When I raced at the Bathurst 1000 in 2018 the atmosphere was incredible, the race means so much to the fans and the teams and it’s the one race that every single driver wants to win. It’s one of the coolest and most competitive endurance events that I’ve raced in.”

“I’m really looking forward to working with André, he’s a young guy who is starting to cement his place as a competitive force in the Championship with really solid and consistent results.

“The team are all really pushing hard with the car development at the moment too and the results of that are starting to show so it’s definitely an exciting time for Kelly Grove Racing and I’m looking forward to being part of that.”

Heimgartner admits having an international star like Bamber on his side is a valuable commodity and they have a genuine shot of taking victory in October.

“It’s really awesome to have Earl join the team for this year’s Bathurst 1000 and to have another Kiwi in the team,” Heimgartner said.

“Earl is someone that I’ve obviously paid close attention to over the years being from New Zealand and he’s had a huge amount of success in racing internationally.”

“Things like winning the 24 hours of Le Mans and the World Endurance Championship are two of the biggest accolades you can have shy of winning a F1 World Championship so his resume is certainly very impressive.”

“Earl has raced in Supercars before, but it has been a few years and with a different car so there might be some acclimatisation required for him to get comfortable, but I have no doubt he’ll be very competitive and give NED Whisky Racing the best chance of success.”

This year’s Bathurst 1000 will run from October 7-10, serving as the third last round of the season.