Wanganui's Earl Bamber will return to driving duties for A1 Team New Zealand in ten days time, when he suits up to race at South Africa's Kyalami circuit for Round Five of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport during the weekend of 20-22 February.
Bamber returns to the cockpit of Black Beauty for his third weekend racing in the A1GP, for what will be his final weekend of being classed as an A1GP Rookie. As a Rookie, Bamber is allowed an extra one hour of practice on the Friday morning of an A1GP race weekend. This will provide him valuable additional time to reacquaint himself with the powerful A1GP race-car around Kyalami.
The eighteen-year-old completed a podium double for New Zealand at the opening round of the current A1GP season at Zandvoort, The Netherlands. Bamber is keen to build on this success for his nation. It'll be more of a challenge this round, as some nations including championship leader Ireland have elected to run one main driver for every round of the season so far.
Other nations including the fifth placed Netherlands team have shared driving duties between drivers, with reasonable success.
A distinct challenge for all drivers at the Kyalami circuit, situated in the Gauteng province of South Africa will be the combination of the circuit's high altitude and hot temperatures. At more than 1,700 metres above sea level, the physical workout of racing around Kyalami will reward the fit drivers in the A1GP grid.
In preparation for such challenging conditions, Bamber is currently immersed in a high performance training program designed specifically for Motorsport drivers. Based in Oxford in the United Kingdom, Bamber's trainer is working him through a demanding routine focussing on neck, core and upper body workouts with the aim of building both his strength and endurance.
By the time he arrives in South Africa, Bamber will have spent three weeks in the intense training program, but it'll be a big change from the current sub-zero temperatures of the United Kingdom to the heat of South Africa.
Since New Zealand's disappointing home race at Taupo last month, Bamber has joined A1 Team New Zealand's engineering 'brains' for a number of debrief meetings, to ensure the braking issue that plagued the team at Taupo is now resolved. While the team remain tight-lipped on the exact cause of the problem with Black Beauty's brakes, they are confident the trouble has been identified and rectified.
Bamber takes to the Kyalami circuit, situated twenty kilometres from Johannesburg, for the first time in has career. However thanks to the marvels of modern technology, he has already driven countless laps of the circuit. Using a professional racing simulator, Bamber has had the opportunity to figure out the nature of the 4.26km long circuit before he even gets on the plane to South Africa.
The Kyalami circuit is rich in history, having held twenty Formula One races since the 1960's. Winners at the circuit include New Zealand's Denny Hulme, who won the 1962 Kyalami Grand Prix at the wheel of a McLaren Formula One car. However since its days as a Formula One circuit, Kyalami has changed considerably as a result of developments in the 1990's which saw a number of sections of the circuit remodelled.
The decision to select Bamber takes nothing away from Chris van der Drift who drove Black Beauty last month at New Zealand's home round of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport. Van der Drift's two race drives in Black Beauty have been rough at times, with a number of technical problems not allowing the quick Kiwi a chance to shine.
Jonny Reid also tested for New Zealand the Monday following the Taupo round, however the decision has been made to stick with a driver that has raced the new Powered by Ferrari A1GP car previously.
With New Zealand currently sixth in the points standings after four rounds, Bamber knows every Black Beauty supporter is behind him in his quest to jump up the points ladder.
Earl Bamber, Driver
"I'm really excited to be back with the team for the next round of A1GP racing!"
"I feel the fittest I've ever been after the intensive training in the UK, so combined with a solid review of Taupo I feel we're in a good place as we head to South Africa."
"As a team we need to make sure we keep banking points, but I'd like to be back on the podium at Kyalami. We can't forget that the other nations have also made some good progress with the new car however."
Colin Giltrap, A1 Team New Zealand Seat Holder
"The decision to put Earl in the car was made between the engineering team and myself. We're confident Earl can do the job for New Zealand in South Africa."
"While Chris [van der Drift] wasn't able to stand out at Taupo, we still believe he's a talented driver. The decision to put Earl back in the car has nothing to do with Chris's ability as a driver."
The views, opinions and content displayed on this webpage are not necessarily those of Pacific Motorsport Limited. Pacific Motorsport Limited takes no responsibility for errors, inaccuracies or omissions.