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News & Editorials
19th Jun: Earl Bamber Wins 'Le Mans'!
Published: 19 Jun 2017 - - Author: Newsroom
In a race that drivers live their life dreaming of winning all their lives, EARL has now WON it twice from two starts, having won it in 2015 on debut.
Congrats - making WANGANUI proud.
Footnote: Bruce McClaren and Chris Amon won the event in 1966.
Lyndsay Tait of 'The Wheels Trust' sent us this report:
Against huge odds ‘our Earl’ has won the great Le Man 24 Hour race.
This year the full race was broadcast live on Sky Sport so those interested could watch the drama unfold – and there was drama alright. After about 4 hours, with Earl driving, the No2 Porsche developed a mechanical fault and had to pit. Mechanics worked for an hour to replace an electric motor in the complex Hybrid engine system. When they re-joined the race they were last!!! Fifty cars ahead of them. From what the TV commentators were saying they were told to just go for it – nothing to lose. Over the next 18 hours or so they clawed their way back up through the field.
At the front there was all sorts of drama as each of the leading cars broke down. About three hours from the end Earl was coming 5th overall and second in class behind the No1 Porsche that was cruising comfortably in the lead by 18 laps. All of a sudden the No1 Porsche slowed to a crawl, then stopped. The driver tried frantically, with instructions from the radio, to limp the car back to the pits but the engine oil light was glowing so that was that. By this stage the English commentators were having a fit and all attention then focused on the No2 car. The intrigue was that Earls car was the leading LMP1 class car (the premier class) but the cars now running 1-4th were of the lessor LMP2 class. Much talk of unprecedented results etc etc.
Earl’s car was 8-10 seconds a lap faster than the leading car and the commentator’s maths worked out that they needed just over 3 hours to get to the front – and there was 3.14hours left!!
Lap by lap they closed the gap. The second placed car got a drive through penalty for a pit lane infringement and the third car had a delayed pit stop and all of a sudden Earls car was second!! About ten minutes from the end they passed for the lead and the rest was history!!!
Lots of close-up TV coverage of Earl and his ex Palmerston North co-driver Brendon Hartley looking very anxious in the Porsche pit garage as the clock counted down. The astute viewer would also have seen Earl’s father Paul in the background!!!
When the car crossed the line there was general mayhem and once again Earl showed that he has one of the biggest grin’s in motorsport!!!! The commentators raved about this little country at the bottom of the world producing great Le Man winners, McLaren, Hulme, Amon and now Bamber & Hartley. Amazing that the last three are from Bulls, Wanganui & Palmerston North.
As the lead car crossed the finish line my phone rang and it was one of Earls Club500 supporters who was driving in Europe ringing to find out the result – perfect timing of the call. He pointed out that Earl would be one of only a very few drivers who have won Le Man twice in only two attempts – 100% record. The statistics of this happening would be huge. Also interesting is that both times Earl’s car was the ‘No2’ car and not the one favoured to win!
Coupled with the Coulthard and Mclachlan wins in Australian Touring Cars in Darwin this weekend and the great America’s Cup results so far it was a magic weekend for NZ.
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