Talented teenage racer William Bamber is set to join Steve Richards in the #556 Falcon for the first-ever V8SuperTourer endurance race event in Taupo in September.
Already a champion and still only 18 years of age, Bamber is understandably excited about the opportunity to race with John McIntyre Racing (JMR) which won the inaugural V8SuperTourer sprint championship with team owner and driver John McIntyre in June.
"The V8SuperTourers is the perfect class for someone like me trying to make it up through the ranks," says Bamber who is originally from Whanganui and now based in Auckland.
"With every car being identical under the skin, it comes down to the driver and how you engineer the car. It's also fantastic to have a car so similar to the V8Supercars, it finally gives us young Kiwis a proving ground to then head across the ditch."
McIntyre says winning championships will always be JMR's key goal, but fostering talent in the sport is also important.
"We also want to help provide opportunities in New Zealand's most competitive touring car series to talented young Kiwis like Will Bamber.
"Will has proven ability – he's a Suzuki Swift Cup series champion, he's had the benefit of attending the Motorsport NZ Elite Academy and he was the youngest-ever driver in the New Zealand V8 touring car championship. He's raced and won against Australia's best karters, then went on to race in the top five at the Rotax Max world karting finals in Dubai, so even though he's only 18, Will has some excellent racing miles under his belt."
Bamber says that the 1 to 2 September running of the all-new endurance race format for the V8SuperTourers will be his first experience of endurance style racing, but with the experience of two-time Bathurst winner Steve Richards as the car's lead driver, he'll be learning from an expert.
"To have someone like Steve to guide me along the way is so valuable for a rookie like me; you can't beat that level of experience. I will be a sponge over the entire weekend, trying to soak up all the knowledge I can!
"I'm not exactly diving in the deep end though because the Father's Day 400 has a unique format. V8SuperTourer officials have split the event into two 200 km races rather than a single 400 km race, so that creates a perfect introduction to endurance racing and will act as great preparation for the longer races planned for the rest of the championship."
Having finished in the inaugural V8SuperTourer sprint championship in a solid tenth place, Richards is delighted by the news that Bamber will join him for the first endurance event.
"Will is one of New Zealand's real motor racing talents," notes Richards, an expat Kiwi based in Melbourne, Australia. "He has been working on the #556 Falcon since Manfeild, managing our tyres and getting used to the way that the JMR team operates. He's a great guy and naturally I believe he'll be an excellent partner to have for the Taupo enduro. Will lives and breathes motorsport and has maturity beyond his teenage years; I think we will make a great combo."
Bamber had the opportunity to drive the #556 Falcon at the Taupo Motorsport Park earlier in June, when McIntyre also provided his endurance co-driver Jono Lester with more track time.
Bamber is enthusiastic about the test session. "My first impression of the V8SuperTourer on track was just awesome. The overall package is very impressive but in particular the brakes and the grip of the Hankook tire is just on another level. The test has only fuelled my excitement even further for the opening round of the championship.
The teenager concludes: "I'm so grateful for the opportunity to race in the V8SuperTourers with JMR and I can't wait to head out of pit lane for the first time at the Father's Day 400. The JMR team have been so welcoming and I really feel at home with the team so I couldn't be happier."
More details about McIntyre and his team can be found on www.jmr.co.nz