This weekend marks the start of a new chapter in the career of young Australian racer, Matt Campbell: After five seasons in Porsche one-make series, the Warwick-raised 23-year-old graduates to the pinnacle of sports car racing – the 2018/19 FIA World Endurance Championship ‘Super Season’.
The significance of this step is not lost on the other side of the world in Australia; Campbell’s continued ascent of the Porsche Motorsport Pyramid from its base tier – GT3 Cup Challenge – validates the very pathway used by numerous young Australian-based drivers to reach the pinnacle of sports car racing.
Campbell will race alongside German Christian Ried and Frenchman Julien Andlauer in the Dempsey Proton Racing 911 RSR – the now-fastest factory-built competition race car from the German sports car brand.
As Campbell embarks on this new challenge, we look back at his past five seasons where Campbell has transitioned from being an the shy kid from rural Queensland to a factory-backed sports car star.
Champion (Class B), 4th Outright – Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Australia
– Consistently competing amongst the newer Class A cars
– Contested the final round in a Class A car, winning all three races by a combined margin of 27 seconds
– New Lap Record: Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit
The 2014 season marked the start of Campbell’s ascent of the Porsche Motorsport Pyramid – a key step in his short racing career. Campbell raced in the 2014 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Australia season, quickly turning heads for his speed in the 2005-spec Class B entry against a field mostly consisting of the 2011-spec Porsche. Campbell wrapped up the Class B title with one round remaining and was handed the opportunity to race a Class A Porsche for the season finale. Campbell claimed pole position and dominated all three races (with a total winning margin of 27 seconds).
3rd – Porsche Carrera Cup Australia
– Best Rookie
– Finished either 1st or 2nd in the final 11 races of the season
– Six race wins
– New Race Lap Record: Mount Panorama Circuit (Bathurst)
– New Qualifying Lap Record: Mount Panorama Circuit (Bathurst)
– New Qualifying Lap Record: Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit
– New Qualifying Lap Record: Sandown Raceway
Campbell continued his ascent of the Motorsport Pyramid in 2015, moving to the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia championship. Again, he quickly gained attention by qualifying second at Albert Park – his second ever Carrera Cup event. His true ability was then demonstrated at the tail end of the season. Campbell finished in the top two positions in the final 11 races of the season, including six race wins.
Champion – Porsche Carrera Cup Australia
– Won 13 out of 23 races, in addition to the outright joint Porsche Carrera Cup Australia Asia & Australia race
– New record: Most consecutive pole positions (seven)
– New record: Most pole positions gained in a season (seven)
– New Qualifying Lap Record: Hidden Valley Raceway
– New Qualifying Lap Record: Sandown Raceway
Campbell clinched the 2016 Carrera Cup title in just his second attempt. Campbell won 13 of the season’s 23 races, scored seven out of a possible eight pole positions and also claimed victory in the outright Porsche Carrera Cup Asia & Australia joint race at Sydney Motorsport Park.
Such was Campbell’s talent, renowned Supercars Championship team, Nissan Motorsport, recruited the 21-year-old to co-drive in the touring car series’ three endurance events at Sandown, Bathurst and Gold Coast. True to form, Campbell impressed in all three events.
Campbell was also Carrera Cup Australia’s nominee for the Porsche Motorsport Junior Programme Shootout, which he ultimately won and therefore secured a position as a 2017 Porsche Junior driver and a seat on the grid of the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup grid for the following season.
3rd – Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup
– 2nd, Rookie Classification
– Four race wins
Campbell contested his debut season in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup in 2017, his first year of European motorsport. Campbell lined up for the Fach Auto Tech team and finished runner-up in the rookie competition. After eleven races, he ended the season in third place in the overall standings. The then-Porsche Junior won four races, in Spielberg (Austria), Monza (Italy) and the double-header in Mexico City. Promotion to a Porsche Young Professional meant Campbell would ultimately claim his spot on the FIA World Endurance Championship grid as part of Porsche GT customer programme in 2018.