WHO will replace seven-time Supercars Champion Jamie Whincup at Red Bull Ampol Racing in 2022?
It’s one of the biggest questions in pit lane and a name continually linked via industry speculation is Kiwi Earl Bamber.
The long-time Porsche sportscar and GT star is a two-time Le Mans 24 Hour winner and no stranger to Supercars, having shared a Red Bull Commodore with Shane van Gisbergen in the 2018 Pirtek Enduro Cup.
Bamber lost his factory Porsche driver role at the end of last year but has been assigned this year to work with Porsche GT3 customer teams in the GT World Challenge Europe and IMSA GT Daytona class in the United States.
His Porsche links also continue via Earl Bamber Motorsport entering the Australian market this year in Porsche Carrera Cup Australia and the Porsche Michelin Sprint Challenge from its Gold Coast base.
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Bamber will make his second Bathurst 1000 appearance this year and has signed to drive with Andre Heimgartner in Kelly Grove Racing’s #7 Ned-backed Mustang in the Repco Bathurst 1000 in October.
Kiwi Supercars legend Greg Murphy feels Bamber has the sort of X-factor that may see him a better bet to replace Whincup than its Super2 young gun Broc Feeney.
“The Earl Bamber scenario, well, Earl, the times he has jumped in a Supercar was incredibly impressive,” Murphy said, speaking on the Repco Supercars Weekly podcast, which can be listened to here via our website or in the below player and is also available wherever you listen to podcasts, including Apple, Spotify and Google.
“He’s a worldly, very experienced race car driver that you know is going to get in and be ahead of the game, more than most drivers would be for someone who hasn’t done a lot of Supercar racing.
“He’s just one of those X-factor kinda guys, so that might be a better bet [than Broc Feeney].
“Is Shane van Gisbergen going to have what he had on the weekend with team-mate Jamie Whincup with Broc Feeney as that person? No, you’re not going to have that first year.
“Is it going to happen second year? Maybe not. We know [it] takes a long time for drivers to find that groove and become subliminal with the Supercar and all the circuits, and turn up at every racetrack and be on the game.
“Broc is clearly a future star, but it must be a very difficult decision to have to go down that path and throw him into the hornet’s nest there and to have to deal with all of these massive situations with a limited amount of experience.
“Clearly he’s got the skills, so it’s a real challenge.”