Aussie Reaches Porsche Pinnacle
The launch of Porsche Penske Motorsport’s new 963 LMDh-specification prototype this morning at Goodwood came with a major cherry on top for Australian motorsport: Matt Campbell has been confirmed as one of the pilots for its inaugural season of competition.
The squad will field a pair of the cars in both the FIA World Endurance Championship and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship from the start of 2023, with a driving pool featuring Campbell, Kevin Estre, Michael Christensen, Andre Lotterer, Laurens Vanthoor, Mathieu Jaminet, Dane Cameron and Felipe Nasr.
Complete driver line-ups for the various events will be confirmed shortly, although Campbell’s current home in North America may point towards his final destination.
Propelled by a hybrid 4.6 litre biturbo V8, the powerplant behind the striking 963 has DNA dating back to the RS Spyder program which brought Porsche and Penske much success between 2005 and 2008, with the LMP2-spec chassis for the platform supplied by Multimatic.
The tie-up with Penske is also significant, with the organisation once again having an antipodean driver behind the wheel.
In addition to current Indycar stars Scott McLaughlin and Will Power, Ryan Briscoe is a former steerer for the outfit, while the team campaigned Down Under in Supercars competition via a joint venture with DJR from 2015 through 2020.
For 27-year-old Campbell, the announcement caps a meteoric rise to the top of the motorsport ladder.
Grandson of Bill Campbell, the driving force behind Morgan Park Raceway in Queensland, Campbell graduated from the local Darling Downs short circuit scene through the Formula Ford ranks to the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge in 2014.
He stepped up to the Australian Carrera Cup the next year, breaking through with six victories to place third in the final standings, before claiming 14 wins in his championship season of 2016.
That year, Campbell made his Supercars Championship debut alongside Todd Kelly at Nissan Motorsport, before moving to Triple Eight the following season, partnering with Shane van Gisbergen in the enduros and standing on the podium at the Gold Coast.
Last year, he returned to partner Andre Heimgartner for Kelly Grove Racing at Bathurst and is set to make another appearance for the rebadged Grove Racing squad this October.
However, for his full-time career, Campbell committed to Porsche.
He won the Porsche Shootout for young drivers at the end of 2016, earning his place on the Supercup grid in ‘17, ultimately finishing third in the standings for the F1 support class with four wins.
Subsequently signed on as a full-factory ace, Campbell has since been an adaptable gun for hire across the world in key championships and events.
Major success has followed – on Australian shores he has registered a string of top results in the Bathurst 12 Hour, including victory in 2019 after a memorable final stint aboard his Earl Bamber Motorsport 911.
Campbell won the GTE Am class on debut at Le Mans in 2018 for Dempsey-Proton Racing, and has multiple FIA World Endurance Championship LMGTE Am class wins to his credit, including at Shanghai, Sebring and Spa from the 2018-19 season, which translated to second in the final rundown.
That year he was also a class winner in the 24 Hours of Dubai.
He currently leads the IMSA GTD Pro class for Pfaff Motorsports aboard a Porsche 911 GT3 R, having claimed class victories at the season-opening 24 Hours of Daytona, and the most recent round at Laguna Seca.
Next year he will be duking it out with the world’s elite prototype drivers at the sport’s top tier, for its proudest marque and most storied team.
The softly spoken kid from Warwick is now officially kind of a big deal.