LG Motorsport is preparing to run 16-year-old William Bamber in the BNT V8s Championship alongside their current NZV8 star Angus Fogg
When Bamber debuts in the NZV8 opening round at the Pukekohe motor racing circuit on 6 November, the Wanganui-based teenager becomes the youngest-ever driver to contest the highly competitive New Zealand V8 touring car series.
Bamber lines up in a Ford Falcon with backing from LG Electronics and nationwide pop music station ZM which complements the LG and Newstalk ZB sponsored Ford raced by Fogg, the team’s experienced lead driver.
William Bamber is the younger brother of successful single-seater race-car driver Earl and won the 2009-10 Suzuki Swift Sport Cup in his second season in the hotly-contested series for the 1600cc cars.
The talented teenage champion is thrilled to be moving into New Zealand’s premier touring car series as a member of the LG Motorsport team.
“It’s going to be massive, lining up for the NZV8’s season-opening race on the Sunday at Pukekohe,” says Bamber. “This is the premier class and after two seasons in the excellent Suzuki Swift series, it was time for me to move forward another step with my racing career.”
The Wanganui Collegiate School student first contested the Suzuki series in 2008 when he enjoyed considerable support from Suzuki New Zealand and the Suzuki dealer network. During his second Suzuki season when he joined the LG Motorsport team, Bamber benefited from a mentoring programme jointly run by LG Motorsport and Darren Stevens, motorsport manager for Suzuki New Zealand. This provided Bamber with the valuable opportunity to learn from Fogg, widely regarded as one of New Zealand’s most experienced, competitive and popular touring car drivers.
“Being in the LG Motorsport NZV8 team alongside Angus is huge for us. Angus’ experience made a big difference to me in the LG-ZM Suzuki – if things went bad, as my mentor, he helped me get back on track.”
This mentoring relationship continues for the 2010-11 season. While Bamber concentrates on learning to pilot the 400+ hp Ford V8 quickly and safely, ‘Foggy’ strives for the NZV8 championship win that has eluded him so far.
November’s opening round represents the start of Fogg’s eighth season in the NZV8 class where he regularly scores pole positions and race wins and has finished two seasons as the second-placed driver.
This year, Fogg says the team has focused on him, as the driver, more than ever. “Fitness and mental preparation have had important roles alongside building a new engine for the LG-ZB Falcon,” says the 43-year-old from Auckland’s North Shore.
“A new brake package was introduced this season so we’ve had that to install and perfect this during pre-season testing. It involves all new rotors, calipers, brake pads and cooling ducts, and is taking some time to get a real handle on. Most competitors have installed the package and we expect it will prove a deciding factor in most driver’s performance this season – the secret is making the most of it.
“We’ve also been working on the normal maintenance and tweaks that you’ve got time to do during the off-season, but as the LG-ZB Falcon was only 0.01 of a second off the lap record at the last meeting last season, we’ve resisted the urge to tweak too much as the car was clearly on the pace.”
Fogg says the biggest challenge to winning the NZV8 championship is the depth of competition. “New Zealand’s best touring car drivers are in this class and you’ve got to beat them all on a consistent basis, race after race, to win. An added twist to this series is the fact the starting grid for each round’s third race is fully reversed, which makes your chances of maximising championship points somewhat unpredictable!”
Fogg rates Bamber’s move to the NZV8 class highly. “I think it’s great, not only from the perspective of young talent entering the class, but also the clear path or stepping stone from one successful one-make class, like the Suzuki Swift Sport Cup, to another. He stays with the LG Motorsport team and continues to build his racing experience and career prospects. From what I know so far, William has performed very well to date in the LG-ZM Falcon and I’m looking forward to seeing how he gets on at Pukekohe.”
LG Motorsport has invested in a car for Bamber, notes team principal Martin Rotteveel. “The Ford and other equipment were recently acquired by LG Motorsport from Tracer Motorsport. The car was last run as #777 for expat Kiwi racing star Paul Radisich and Steve Owen, and we expect it to remain a competitive vehicle with the new brake package now fitted by William’s team manager and engineer Paul Irwin,” says Rotteveel.
With its two car line-up in the NZV8 series, the LG Motorsport name also features in the Suzuki Swift Sport Cup series, the New Zealand Superbike Road Race Championship and the New Zealand Drag Racing Championship. Upper Hutt’s Jamie Gaskin takes over the LG-ZM Suzuki and joins top alcohol funny car driver Morice McMillin, from Hamilton, and Suzuki superbike rider Craig Shirriffs, from Feilding as new members of LG Motorsport for the 2010-11 season.
Kane Silcock, marketing manager for LG Electronics (NZ) Ltd, says the aim with LG Motorsport is to work with talented competitors, both young and experienced, to help foster their development and support and grow motorsport as a whole.
“A great example of this is 15-year-old Jamie Gaskin,” says Silcock. “Recently Jamie was selected from a raft of young drivers all showing great potential. With excellent results in karting and the entry level Formula First class, Jamie stood out as the young driver we wanted in the LG-ZM Swift this season. He’ll work with both Angus and William to maximise this opportunity to learn and compete at his best potential in the very exciting Suzuki Swift series.”
Morice McMillin is the quarter-mile record-holder in the alcohol funny car drag racing category and joined LG Motorsport earlier this year. “Morice is just 24 and already making quite a name for himself in this very exciting form of motorsport,” notes Silcock.
LG Motorsport has also recently confirmed that Fogg and McMillin will co-host the popular TV segment, ‘NZV8TV’, which screens on TV One on Sunday afternoons from 7 November.
The final member of the LG Motorsport team is Craig Shirriffs, a former 600cc national champion making a serious bid for the 2011 New Zealand Castrol Power1 Superbike Road Race Championships title. The 37-year-old contested this category for modified 1000cc motorcycles last year, finishing third.
“We’re delighted to partner with Craig as he moves back to Suzuki and strives for the super level of consistency needed to win against Australasia’s best in this hard-fought series,” says Silcock.
“LG Motorsport partners with LG Electronics, The Radio Network (Newstalk ZB, ZM and Radio Hauraki), Suzuki NZ, Q-West Boats, Pit Stop, Arnott’s Shapes, LG Mobile, NZV8 Magazine, iSignit, Jones Haulage, TradeZone Pukekohe and Punch Advertising, companies which all play an important role in helping our team participate at the highest level.
Silcock concludes: “This season we’ll also have a new team of LG Motorsport promotional models to add a fresh dimension to the nuts and bolts of top level racing. The drivers and riders, our crews and our girls all add to the LG Motorsport community which engages with race fans of all ages across a wide spectrum of New Zealand motorsport. We’re excited about the upcoming season and look forward to seeing our team do well in their respective championships. See you out there!”