Earl Bamber Motorsport has withdrawn from the Total 24 Hours of Spa, with its planned full-season Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli plans put on hold due to travel restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Malaysian-based squad, which had submitted a full-season IGTC entry with one Porsche 911 GT3 R, had plans to field two cars in the race according to team co-principal Will Bamber.
However, Bamber explained that both entries became unfeasible due to travel restrictions from various countries in the Asia-Pacific region impacting both drivers and crew.
“We had two cars lined up for Spa as part of our ongoing full-season IGTC entry,” Will Bamber told Sportscar365. “A second car came about through some personal contacts in Asia.
“We had a supply agreement for that car, which pulled out about a month ago. A lot of the drivers were based in Hong Kong, which was difficult.
“Unfortunately just given the restrictions now, especially Australia becoming really strict, some key people within our team [could not travel].
“They could probably come but they would have to quarantine for two weeks, and now with how the borders are working, potentially far longer. They would actually miss even more work.
“It’s bloody hard to say to them that they’re going to take four or six weeks off for one race when they can have two or three events in Australia.
“Unfortunately we’ve had to make the decision to withdraw for this year because of the situation.
“We had everything confirmed and secured but in terms of executing it from where we’re located, it’s just not possible.”
Bamber said the team initially withdrew its single-car entry from the Indianapolis 8 Hour shortly after Spa was postponed to late October, explaining that they elected to prioritize Spa amid rising air-freight costs.
However, increased travel restrictions have now put EBM’s entire IGTC program on hold, although there remains a chance it could still contest the season-ending Kyalami 9 Hour with a single Pro-Am class entry.
“We have a signed driver for Kyalami and we’re just working on that again,” Bamber said.
“As soon as I spoke to the primary customer who wanted to do Spa, the discussion was, ‘OK, change the simulator over to Kyalami and start practicing there and let’s finalize the budget for next year.’
“It’s strange to have to postpone or cancel all of these things.
“We’re lucky to have had some good advise and have tidied up some areas to cover overheads to make sure we’re going to be around for a really long time and not be so affected by this issue.
“But it’s a very difficult game, this international motorsport right now.”
EBM had plans to also field multiple Porsches in GT World Challenge Asia powered by AWS, which has yet to announce a revised schedule for the 2020 season.
Earl Bamber: “It’s a Massive Logistical Challenge”
While their team will not take part in the race, Will’s brother Earl Bamber admitted that he still hopes to land a drive in the 24 Hours of Spa.
The Oct. 24-25 enduro currently does not clash with the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, which has been the Porsche factory driver’s primary focus for this year.
The defending IMSA GT Le Mans class champion said it’s been a “massive logistical challenge” in working out what’s possible later in the year.
“It’s been really, really hard,” said Earl Bamber. “For us our main focus has been to be in the U.S. and try to win the championship over here.
“With anything else going on, it has to be [done] safely so we can manage to get back for the [IMSA] races.
“We obviously can’t do Nürburgring  this year with the Mid-Ohio date. I’m really hoping for Spa that we can do that. It would be nice to be able to go back over there, so fingers crossed for that one that it’s going to work out.”