Recently promoted to the Porsche LMP1 World Endurance Championship squad, former GT racer Kiwi Earl Bamber is really looking forward to this weekend's Bathurst 12-hour event.

Bamber has tasted much success all around the world as a GT racer and is keen to get going back in a 911 GT3 R.

"I've had too much time on my hands at the moment and have been out buying a go-kart just so I can get track time," said Bamber from Mount Panorama.

"It's the same car [GT3 R] that I used at Macau and Sepang. It's not the new mid-engined one [911 RSR]. Having said that, the R has been performing well and should be pretty good around here. A Cup car goes well around Bathurst so this one should be okay. The BOP [Balance of Power] engine power is not bad, but we [co-drivers] have to learn the circuit as well as the team.

Advertisement

"It's great that we have Walkinshaw looking after the car as they have been a very successful team around here. I'm looking forward to seeing what the combo can do," he said.

Bamber has two Class B wins already under his belt winning with the Grove Group back in 2014 and 2016 in a Carrera Cup car. This year though he's stepped up into the top Class A Pro category alongside Laurens Vanthoor and Kevin Estre in a Walkinshaw Racing GT3 R with factory backing.

"I'm really chuffed to be able to come back out to Bathurst to race here again, especially with the driver lineup we have. It's awesome to have Kevin and Laurens in the car.

"I've raced in a Class B car before and so am really excited to see how a Class A car goes here at Bathurst," he said.

The 2017 field is a collection of some of the best GT racers from around the world and could be the strongest field ever assembled for the race. In fact, it wouldn't too much of a longbow to draw to say it might just be the strongest sportscar field in the world to date.

There are drivers from the DTM (German Touring Car championship, the WEC, Supercars, various international Porsche series, Formula One and others). Outside of the Aussies and other internationals, there will be a healthy smattering of other New Zealanders in with a chance.

"It will be a much more challenging race than last year that's for sure. There are a lot of good drivers here and I think it could be the toughest field we've ever faced as a factory team.

"The depth of international drivers is pretty good and then you've got all the local drivers. The Supercars drivers know the track really well and while they might not know the cars as well, they'll be on it that's for sure.

"The rest of us have come down to play in their backyard. There's probably 16 cars that can challenge for the Top 10 shoot out and probably 10 strong cars that can be in with a chance to win," he said.

The Mount Panorama track, up the road from the town of Bathurst, is a one-off in the world of motor racing.

It has great elevation, long straights and a super fast, narrow chute of concrete along the top.

With more than 50 cars thundering up the hill, being strung out across the top and then stretched down Conrod Straight again, will offer many opportunities for pain or glory.

"The safety car can affect the race in a big way. We just have stay on the lead lap and keep the car nice and clean until the ninth hour where we should be in a position to attack. It's almost like a sprint race but with safety cars it can change a lot, especially here.

"If you get a safety you lose all the time you've been pushing. You then again have to push the car hard again to get ahead.

"With 56 cars around Bathurst it's very easy to make contact or something like that. You've got to have the car in good shape at the end."