Porsche Australia & New Zealand – Motorsport: Australia’s Matt Campbell has earned his place at the top of the Porsche Motorsport Pyramid and he is now on the road to creating history with the new Porsche 963 LMDh.
Bathurst’s Mount Panorama circuit has witnessed many daring racing manoeuvres. Porsche Works Driver Matt Campbell has produced a number of them. Ask any racing fan which is his greatest and the answer is the same: the 2019 Bathurst 12 Hour endurance race.
With only nine minutes remaining in that year’s event, the Queensland driving ace miraculously injected the nose of his Porsche 911 GT3 R between the race leader’s door and the unforgiving concrete wall at Forrest’s Elbow, gliding past both and into the lead before powering off into the Sunday afternoon sun to take outright victory in the famous endurance classic.
“It was surreal,” he says, speaking about the overtaking move from the circuit’s pit complex earlier this year. “It was high-risk, but I remember the instructions from Team Manager Earl Bamber: “Absolutely go for it!” I was able to pull off the move in the last minutes, and it was a special way to win.”
The move was signature Matt Campbell: fast, clean and laser-accurate. In the words of circuit commentator Richard Craill, it made sure Porsche added Bathurst “to its tally of every major endurance race the world has to offer.”
Campbell returned to the Mountain in February this year, this time in a 911 GT3 R wearing the unmistakable “Grello” colours of the Manthey EMA team.
“It’s good to be back,” he says with a smile. “It’s one of my favourite events in the calendar and this is my favourite track in the entire world.”
It’s the only home race he gets to do these days, thanks to his busy schedule with the new Porsche 963 LMDh. Having now earned his place at the top of the Porsche Motorsport Pyramid as a works driver, Matt has been busy with the new 515 kW (700 PS) Porsche prototype racer and its intensive development programme.
“It’s been really cool to be part of it. The whole testing and development phase was really good for me because I was learning the 963 at a similar rate to all the engineers. At the start, there was a transition period for me to get comfortable in the car – to get to know it and build my understanding of its systems – because this car is very complex compared to what I’m used to.
“This is my first time being involved in a prototype programme. Until now, my focus has been on GT for the majority of my career.”
Campbell explained some of the major differences between the two cars.
“Aerodynamics play a big part in the prototype. That’s been the biggest difference. On top of this are the systems in the car. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes to operate and control them. But I’m feeling really comfortable now and the transition from GT to prototype has actually been a bit easier than initially expected.”
Campbell has a busy 2023 calendar. Along with contesting the World Endurance Championship (WEC) and the North American IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with the new 963 prototype, Porsche, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, is aiming for victory at the 100th running of the annual 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race in June. The sportscar maker is looking to eclipse its own record as the manufacturer with the most wins at La Sarthe, which currently stands at 19.
“We want to perform, and we want to get that 20th overall victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans,” he says.
Matt’s busy schedule means he splits his time between Germany and the USA.
“We’ve got a very busy racing and testing programme in the US. But I really enjoy the travel and getting to see new places, and doing something different every weekend.”
The talented racer has come a long way since beginning as a Porsche Junior in 2017.
Winning the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia championship in 2016 required extraordinary effort and perseverance, and it was his springboard to racing in Europe with Porsche, and his “life-changing” journey with the sportscar maker.
“Reaching the top of the Porsche Motorsport Pyramid was the ultimate goal we set out to achieve with my supporters and family back in 2015,” he says.
Matt Campbell knows the opportunities he has so far earned with the storied sportscar brand. A quick look at the company’s catalogue of famous race-winning cars gives him an exciting reminder. And his favourite amongst them? The 917.
“For me, the golden era for sportscars and endurance racing was the seventies and early eighties,” he says. “I love the history and stories of those cars.”
Matt Campbell has reached his first summit with Porsche. And along with the entire Porsche Penske Motorsport team, he plans to create a new golden era for sportscars and endurance racing.