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Holder and Farmer ready for gravel of Portugal Rally

Kiwi rally pairing Dave Holder and Jason Farmer head to the testing gravel stages of Rally de Portugal, starting 17 May, with the odds slightly more in their favour.

Holder and Farmer, from Mt Maunganui and Hamilton respectively, have always rallied on the gravel roads of New Zealand. With the first two 2018 FIA Junior World Rally Championship events run on snow and tarmac, they’ve been well out of their comfort zone. But rallying on gravel is something the pair are more familiar with and while they’re not taking it for granted – given the well-known challenges of Portugal’s often rocky, rutted special stages – it’s one less thing they have to learn while at the rally.

One of 14 JWRC entrants in Portugal, Holder says he’s not underestimating the challenges.

“We are aiming to finish, as we have for the first two events, but this time we’d like to finish in the top five of our class,” says Holder. “We think that’s realistic given that it’s another new rally for us, and everything that means in terms of doing a good job writing pace notes during recce. The others in our class are also at a different level compared to the level of competition we have in New Zealand.

“We’ve just got to relax and drive the rally, one day at a time. We’re back on the right surface now and with the experience gained in Sweden and Corsica, the stress levels of what goes on around the event get less each time.”

Earlier in May, Holder and Farmer made the most of the opportunity to drive a two-wheel-drive car at the International Rally of Whangarei, in New Zealand. The car, a Ford Fiesta R2, was similar enough to their JWRC-spec Ford Fiesta R2 EcoBoost rally car to offer Holder an excellent chance to work on developing his left-foot braking skills. They also worked hard on their pace note writing during the two-pass recce (Whangarei is the only New Zealand event to use the two-pass recce).

“Whangarei was pretty much the perfect the lead-in to Portugal,” says Holder, having set a number of new 2WD stage records and finishing ninth overall.

“Our two goals – left foot braking and refining our pace notes – went really well, although it’s fair to say Whangarei is a rally I know well so we could write good notes that worked really well during competition. Now we’re in Portugal, somewhere we’ve never been before, so it’s still a challenge to write good notes during recce this week.”

The decision to change his driving style to incorporate left foot braking, after almost eight years of competition using his right foot to brake, is one Holder believes is needed for greater speed in the longer term. “I wouldn’t say I’ve mastered it yet, but we managed to be fast, as well as nice and safe, so I was happy with that.”

Coming out of a familiar event they enjoy also offered Holder and Farmer a welcome change of pace after the intensity of the first two JWRC rounds when they had so much to learn, absorb and adapt to.

“In many respects, Whangarei was quite relaxing, among competitors we know well. Compared to WRC events, there was a lot less to do which allowed us to concentrate on our own developmental goals. We didn’t have any pressure, being separate to the main competition, but you can’t help be a bit competitive with a faster team or two. We were really happy to set some 2WD stage records, especially one on Sunday in the wet.”

Looking ahead to the Portuguese event based near Porto, in northern Portugal, the Kiwis face 358.19km of competition, broken into 20 special stages and connected by nearly 1,574km of touring stages. The event opens on Thursday evening at the picturesque Guimarães Castle before a 3.36km blast around Lousada rallycross circuit. Friday takes them toward the Spanish border for three stages repeated both morning and afternoon, and then back to Porto for two super special stages in the city centre. The longest leg of 154.64km, on Saturday, takes them east into the mountains with another repeated loop of three stages. The rally concludes on Sunday with five stages, including two runs on the famed Fafe stage which attracts tens of thousands of spectators. That is itself is going to be an exciting experience for Holder and Farmer.

Holder adds: “The commitment to undertake this JWRC campaign can’t be underestimated, and I’m thankful to Jason and his family for their support, our sponsors and supporters, and my wife Adina.”

Holder acknowledges the continued support of HWR Group, Mt Wheel Alignment, Chicane Racewear, Magnum Compliance, Farmline Machinery, Mt Bikes, KPMG Tauranga, Cooney Lees Morgan, Bell Booth, Thurlow Building & Construction, Monit Rally Computers and Amplified Customs.

More information about Holder’s world rallying journey can be found on the website, www.daveholderrally.com or their social media channels: https://www.facebook.com/DaveHolderRally/, https://twitter.com/DaveHolderRally and https://www.instagram.com/daveholderrally/.

2018 Junior WRC calendar for Holder and Farmer

Rally Sweden, 15-18 February
Rallye Tour de Corse, 5- 8 April
Rally de Portugal, 17-20 May
Rally Finland, 26-29 July
Rally of Turkey, 13-16 September

Source: Kate Gordon-Smith/Relish Communications

Photo: Adina Holder

Strong start for Armstrong in 2018 Formula Three Euro

Christchurch-born race driver Marcus Armstrong has started strongly – but with some frustration – in the 2018 FIA Formula 3 European Championship’s opening round over this weekend at Pau in France.

Armstrong, 17, was fifth overall in the first race of the season, improved to a podium in the second but was unable to finish the third after being nudged into the wall and then caught up in a midfield crash.

In race one Armstrong showed his potential: “I had a good start, we went from P9 to P6 and our pace was good as well in the early laps so I was pretty happy. The car felt good too and if we just got qualifying right, maybe we could be on the podium, but for being the first race in Formula 3 and the first race at Pau, I’m satisfied.”

His team-mate, Guanyu Zhou, won the race.

Sacha Fenestraz and Alex Palou were 1-2 from start to finish in the second race while Armstrong carved his way through from sixth place behind them to be third.

“That was a long way on a street circuit – P6 to P3! My start in race 2 was okay, not particularly good, but not particularly bad either. In turn 1, I then managed to take fourth place. After Scherer crashed into the barriers and slid back onto the track, he almost collected me. From that point of view, I was lucky to be on the podium in the first place.”

Armstrong said he was ‘partially buried’ in P8 for the rainy third and final race of the weekend, and well in the ‘danger zone’ where most opening-lap crashes occur. There was chaos at the start when Alex Palou ‘bogged’ and partially stalled, then having avoided the almost stationary car of Palou   Armstrong was held off the racing line by Dan Ticktum.

“It was a very low grip piece of track and I had no way to slot back onto the racing line,” he said.

Ticktum then bumped tyres with the Kiwi, sending him over a pedestrian kerb and into the Armco.

“It wasn’t a big hit but big enough, I hung on but was dropping back and then Ferdinand Habsburg and I came together in low visibility on the front straight and I hit the wall so that was it, race over on lap seven,” he said.”

His team-mate, Ralf Aron, grabbed the lead off the start from P3, defended his position on the restart after the cars of Habsburg and Armstrong were recovered and won the race, which was shortened by the rain. Armstrong is now fifth on points after one round and third in the rookie standings. His Prema team leads the teams’ standings.

“I’m really disappointed to miss another chance to make points, but third in the rookie points and fifth overall is a good start.”

 

European Formula 3 brings Kiwi driver to a massive audience

Marcus Armstrong will race this year in front of the biggest trackside and TV audiences he has ever seen. The growing profile of Formula 3 and the impending merger of F3 and GP3 mean the eyes of race fans, team managers, talent spotters and media are fixed on the F3 grid as never before.

The process began last year.

The 2017 race calendar took the FIA Formula 3 European Championship teams and drivers to eight different countries. During the course of the season they had to demonstrate their skills not only at current Formula One race venues, such as Spa-Francorchamps, the Hungaroring, Spielberg, Monza, the Hockenheimring and Silverstone, but also at two challenging street circuits: Pau and Nuremberg’s Norisring. The race meetings were attended by an average crowd of 63,600 visitors, representing an increase of about 9,000 visitors per event compared to 2016. The season finale at Hockenheim was witnessed by 152,000 spectators live on site and the Norisring meeting attracted 125,000 visitors. The fact that the FIA Formula 3 European Championship is very popular with motor-racing enthusiasts away from DTM events was demonstrated by the fact that the FIA Formula 3 race weekend at Spa-Francorchamps and the season kick-off at Silverstone were attended by 65,000 and 50,000 visitors respectively.

Indications are that this year’s championship will attract audiences up to 20 per cent greater in number both trackside and on television.

Sloan Cox races into third on international rallycross debut

Kiwi driver Sloan Cox showed he’s on the right track with his new rallycross endeavours, securing a well-deserved third place at his very first international rallycross event at the Höljes Motorstadion in Sweden on 6 May (CEST).

Cox, from Rotorua, has joined the RX Academy for the 2018 season, taking a new direction away from the New Zealand Rally Championship to focus on the intense, stadium-based motorsport discipline of rallycross, aka RX.

Considering Cox had had just one official test day in his 220 horsepower Renault Clio RS RX car, identical for all eight academy participants, and had never raced on a European rallycross circuit before, the result is all the more significant for the 26-year-old.

“It’s an amazing feeling to be on the podium at round one,” Cox says. “Of course I wanted to win but everyone is there to win! I knew it was going to be a tough battle because everyone was so even. So, a sensible drive to get on to the podium was more important than pushing for the win. I have learnt in motorsport that being consistent is the key so this is the great start to the year.”

Part of Cox’s preparation for the first of five RX Academy events was a three-day academy training camp.

“We focused mainly on the theory side of things with mental fitness, media skills and driving techniques. I enjoyed all the areas but what I wanted to work on the most was mental because rallycross takes a very different mindset to rally. The car is very different going back to front-wheel-drive, so I need to change my driving style, and racing with cars around me is obviously not what I’m used to.

“All the competitors worked real well together and I can tell it’s going to be a good year with tight battles. The RX Academy tutors are top level and have amazing experience. Christoph Treier, mental coach has worked with many top athletes and drivers in WRC and World RX. Head of media Hal Ridge also works in media for the World RX. Jussi Pinomäki, the head of RX Academy, leads the driving coaching and is a very good driver himself and runs other championship winning RX drivers.”

At the official test day in Strängnäs, Cox focused on quickly adapting to the front-wheel-drive Renault after his powerful four-wheel-drive Mitsubishi at home. “I love the car; it was awesome to drive. We did four laps in each session and did eight sessions. The track was a very good track to learn on. The day started out wet which was a challenge but good to learn as it exaggerated how you have to drive the car. As things dried out, we got faster. I concentrated hard on learning and made big improvements during the day. I felt by the end of the day I had really proven what I could do. I wasn’t the fastest, but I proved I could hold good speed and be consistent.”

Cox’s Renault also stood out from his competitors with a colourful custom design. “At the beginning of the year we were given the option of applying our own livery to the car at our own cost, so we made the most of the opportunity to replicate the design done by AWS Graphics that is also seen on our Taslo Engineering hillclimb beast. I believe that having a standout, different car is very important.”

Going into the first event at Höljes where the RX Academy category was part of massively popular RallyX Nordic championship, Cox says he had a feeling that he hadn’t had before. “When I rally I get very nervous at times, but this was such a new experience that I don’t know what to think. I was very excited but wasn’t expecting too much of myself; I just wanted to learn as much as I could.”

Saturday’s schedule saw Cox join his academy colleagues in a free practice session and qualifying heat, finishing each four-lap session seventh and sixth overall respectively. Further qualifying on Sunday saw Cox improve to fifth overall with several fastest lap times. His goal was to be one of the six drivers who made the final, which he did with second place in his semi-final. The semis and final comprise five, mad-dash laps with a whole race taking about four-and-a-half minutes.

“After the semi, my next goal was a podium in the final. I knew after the test day that a win was going to be hard work and I had more to learn, but a podium meant I could start the year with good points. And that I did with a third place finish in the final, so I’m now third on points after the first round.”

Cox is confident the change to the high intensity rallycross is a good move. “I’m feeling very positive for the year; now I just need to keep improving so I’ll be working on getting more seat time in front-wheel-drive cars on both tarmac and gravel. There’s also a possibility of racing in the RXA Australian Rallycross Championship – we’ll know more on that soon.”

He’s also loved his time in Europe so far. “Finland was a beautiful place and the whole SET Promotions team (which runs the RX Academy) were so welcoming straight away and made me feel so comfortable. Sweden is another amazing place and the people here are so nice. Europe is motorsport crazy and I have been lucky enough to meet some famous people and see amazing motorsport history on this trip.”

Before he returns to New Zealand, Cox will join RX Academy coaches and competitors at a round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship in Belgium and see rallycross competition at the highest level.

Cox will head back to Finland for three more RX Academy rounds – 16 June (Honkajoki), 11 August (Jalasjärvi) and 25 August (Kouvola), before the season concludes on 7 October at Tierps in Sweden.

Cox’s 2018 rallycross campaign is supported by Taslo Engineering, AJ’s Emporium, Driveline Automotive, Signedge and Teng Tools. Follow the news and action on Facebook: Sloan Cox Motorsport Ltd or RX Academy.

Source: Kate Gordon-Smith/Relish Communications

Paddon’s social media vision recognised by WRC peers

Kiwi rally star Hayden Paddon was presented with the WRC.com Social Media Star of the Year award at the WRC Gala awards in Sydney on Monday 20 November.

Paddon, the only New Zealander competing in the FIA World Rally Championship, has built a strong social media presence during his international career with over 400,000 followers on Facebook, 68,000 on Instagram and 36,700 on Twitter.

Oliver Ciesla, Managing Director, WRC Promoter, says: “Social media continues to change the way people interact and communicate, and in the WRC that’s no different. It’s a key way to engage with fans all over the world.

“The WRC.com Social Media Star of the Year Award is awarded by the WRC Promoter to recognise the outstanding achievements of a driver who has done the most to reach out to fans in the most innovative and prolific way, for the benefit of the sport, their teams and sponsors, and themselves.

“Hayden has deservedly been recognised for his outstanding efforts to engage with fans through the creation of emotive content from his activities surrounding the WRC which complement the championship.”

Paddon is known for his desire to connect directly and candidly with his fans. Unlike many professional athletes who use paid PR professionals or social media agencies to manage their social media accounts, it’s Paddon himself, or sometimes his co-driver Seb Marshall, posting photos, videos and comments to social media before, during and after events. Working with Hyundai New Zealand, the concept of the #PaddonsPack supporters’ group on social media gained significant momentum during 2017.

But the release of two ‘Paddon’s Playground’ videos this year added a whole new dimension to Paddon’s social media strategy. He’d conceived the idea of showcasing some of his favourite parts of New Zealand in a rally car. While he was home earlier this year, he blasted his New Zealand Hyundai AP4+ through the scenic wonders of Minaret Station on the edge of Lake Wanaka and up the Cardrona ski field road. The two hugely-popular videos were filmed and produced by John-Jo Ritson from Christchurch-based Flashworks Media.

Wayne Christie, President of MotorSport New Zealand, says: “Hayden has been a fantastic ambassador of motorsport both in New Zealand and overseas. He continues to promote himself and rallying through social media to a dedicated fan base and has created a loyal following that has enhanced the profile of Kiwi rallying and all of New Zealand to his legions of fans around the world. Hayden’s popularity at home is clearly evident when he competes in New Zealand by the sheer number of spectators that line the stages.

“Hayden has deservedly become a household name achieved through his efforts and the support of a small team via the power of social media plus traditional media. It is great to see him recognised by the WRC Promoter for his contribution in this area. Congratulations to you, Hayden. You’ve set the bar high for other Kiwi motorsport competitors.”

The social media award added to a positive weekend for Paddon who finished third in Rally Australia.

“Big thanks to WRC for recognising the effort of our small group of people for the social media award of the year,” he said. “Social media plays a huge part in keeping our fans up to date and feeling a part of our journey but I’m only a small part of it. Credit also goes to my co-driver Seb Marshall, media manager Kate Gordon-Smith, McKlein Photography for the images, John-Jo from Flashworks Media for our videos, Gary Boyd with analytics and Twitter comments, Hyundai New Zealand and the wider New Zealand media. Also big thanks to our fans who are a huge part of this.”

Source: MotorSport NZ PR

Hartley creating history for New Zealand motorsport

Kiwi racing star Brendon Hartley continues to make New Zealand motorsport history with confirmation that he will continue to drive for Formula 1 team Scuderia Toro Rosso for the 2018 season.

Having made his F1 debut with the team in the United States just over one month ago, Palmerston North-born Hartley will make his fourth appearance for the team at the 2017 F1 season finale in Abu Dhabi on 26 November, and has impressed the team and media with his ability to quickly learn the intricacies of the F1 car and regulations.

“We’re thrilled for Brendon as this is the key opportunity at the peak of world motorsport he always aimed to achieve,” says Brian Budd, CEO of MotorSport New Zealand. “There’s no doubt that Brendon has worked extremely hard over the years and this hard work plus his talents behind the wheel and as a professional athlete have seen him deservedly earn this chance to race in Formula 1. With every race next year, Brendon will continue to inspire younger Kiwi motorsport competitors, particularly those participating in the New Zealand Elite Motorsport Academy from which Brendon graduated in 2006.”

Source: MotorSport NZ PR

Stellar year for Kiwi stars Hartley and Bamber

Kiwi racing stars Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber, with Porsche team-mate Timo Bernhard, secured the 2017 FIA World Endurance Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ Championship at the penultimate round in Shanghai over the weekend.

The result adds to a stellar year for Hartley and Bamber, from Palmerston North and Wanganui respectively, particularly with Hartley’s recent successful Formula 1 debut with Scuderia Toro Rosso and confirmation that he’s racing for the F1 team for the remaining three 2017 events.

It is Hartley’s second WEC drivers’ title, the first coming in 2015 with Bernhard and Australian Mark Webber, and Bamber’s first. The friends who raced karts together as children swapped the stats around when they partnered with Bernhard to win the iconic Le Mans 24 Hours earlier this year – that was Bamber’s second Le Mans victory and Hartley’s first.

“We’re absolutely delighted for Brendon and Earl,” says Wayne Christie, President of MotorSport New Zealand. “They have done New Zealand proud and are proving an incredible inspiration for younger Kiwi motorsport competitors, particularly those participating in the Elite Motorsport Academy as both Brendon and Earl are graduates of our highly-regarded academy programme.”

Christie puts out the challenge to those involved in New Zealand’s high-profile sports awards. “We know Brendon and Earl will be lauded in an array of regional and national motorsport awards in the coming months, and they also deserve to be recognised in wider sporting awards for their incredible, history-making achievements.”

From Shanghai, Hartley has jetted off to join Toro Rosso for the Brazilian Grand Prix next Monday (NZ time), before re-joining Bamber and Bernhard for the final WEC event of the season, the Six Hours of Bahrain, in two weeks. Meanwhile, Porsche has confirmed that Bamber will return to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in the GTLM class for the 2018 season, the series he contested for Porsche in 2015 and 2016.

Christie also congratulates another New Zealander winning a major championship in a Porsche in Shanghai.

“Chris van der Drift secured the 2017 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia Championship title over the weekend, where he battled Earl Bamber’s younger brother Will among a talented field to win the championship. It’s wonderful to also see Will Bamber secured third in this extremely competitive championship.

“There’s also been exciting race action at the ITM Auckland SuperSprint over the weekend, with two New Zealanders – Scott McLaughlin and Fabian Coulthard – still in contention for the Supercars Championship title.

“This year is certainly a stellar year for New Zealand motorsport.”

Source: MotorSport NZ PR

50 years since Denny Hulme’s F1 Championship title

Sunday 22 October marks the 50th anniversary of Kiwi racing legend Denny Hulme winning the 1967 Formula 1 World Championship in Mexico. Hulme made history as the first – and only – New Zealander to have ever won the most prestigious motor racing championship in the world.

The significance of the date gains added impetus this year as another New Zealander, 27-year-old Brendon Hartley, will make his F1 debut on 22 October 2017 in the United States Grand Prix. It’s 33 years since a New Zealander last raced in F1.

Hulme’s achievement was notable in several ways. He was racing and winning alongside with fellow Kiwi Bruce McLaren in the famed Can-Am series while also racing F1 for Jack Brabham, so to be crowned world champion, he had to not only beat his team mate, but his boss and his employer. Earlier in the 1967 F1 season, Hulme won his first Grand Prix on the famed streets of Monaco, becoming the first New Zealander to have won a F1 race.

His Kiwi chief mechanic at Braham Racing, Cary Taylor, recently told motor racing writer Michael Clark: “To have been with Denny for his first F1 win at Monaco in 1967 still holds very special memories for me. I don’t think we really expected to win, as we were still running last year’s BT20, but, at Monaco, anything can happen, with success or failure the difference between a split second’s loss of driver concentration and a war of mechanical attrition.”

Hulme won again partway through that eventful 1967 season, at Germany’s mighty Nürburgring. With podium results in six other races, the championship came down to the Grand Prix in Mexico with Hulme on 47 points and Brabham on 43. Either Brabham driver, known for their serious work ethic and a tendency not to waste words, could take the title. Fellow Kiwi and 1967 F1 competitor, Chris Amon noted: “Jack and Denny and didn’t talk much at the best of times, but in 1967 what used to be extraordinarily limited conversation became almost non-existent!”

Hulme describes the race on 22 October 1967 to Michael Clark during an interview in 1992 six weeks before Hulme died at Bathurst: “Basically Jack did say ‘Well, good luck’, when we arrived at our cars the next morning, and off we went. I was very aware that I could not afford a DNF. I was very conscious of that situation and the first criteria was to get a good start, get clear, and not race with anyone else because, too often, you can get put out by someone else’s bloody stupidity.” The green and gold Brabhams sat on the third row, Brabham 0.38 seconds quicker than Hulme. “Basically, I had to finish, not very far behind Jack”. Jim Clark won the race for Lotus while Brabham finished second, and Hulme third. A New Zealander was World Champion!

In his interview, Hulme highlights his well-known dislike of celebrity: “Jimmy [Clark] and I got up on the podium together and there is a good photograph of the two of us with a single laurel around both of us. Jack was up on the podium as well but it was okay. By then it was all over. We decided that the war had ended and the treaty signed. I was going somewhere else and Jack was going to get on with his own job. After the race we went off for a celebration in a bullring and we all had a play around with these miniature bulls. On the Monday morning I headed off to Riverside – I didn’t want to go to England for all the ballyhoo and hoopla – I just plodded on and joined the Can-Am cars at Riverside as if Formula 1 didn’t exist. Look forward to the next event – that was my motto.”

Wayne Christie, President of MotorSport New Zealand, says: “2017 has been a year of milestones for our sport with several of our member car clubs celebrating significant anniversaries and it seems entirely appropriate that we are able to recognise our first Formula One World Championship winner by having Brendon, the first ever race winner of our internationally recognised Toyota Racing Series, make his F1 debut on the same day.

“It is also important that we recognise that Brendon is a graduate of the MotorSport New Zealand Scholarship Trust’s Elite Motor Sport Academy, which was established in 2003 to help provide our emerging stars with the tools to succeed on the international stage, and one of the goals of the Elite Academy has been to have one of its graduates competing in Formula One.”

Source: MotorSport NZ PR

Photos: Terry Marshall

Hartley’s F1 news sensational for NZ motorsport

The announcement that Kiwi racing driver Brendon Hartley will race for Formula 1 team Scuderia Toro Rosso in America next weekend is a yet another major milestone in Hartley’s stellar career and for New Zealand motorsport as a whole.

Hartley’s debut F1 race, the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Texas on 22 October, is 50 years to the day since Hulme became the first, and only New Zealander to win the World F1 Championship.

Hartley, age 27 and originally from Palmerston North, joins a small line-up of just nine Kiwis who have raced in the world’s top circuit racing category to carry on the tradition set by Bruce McLaren, Denny Hulme and Chris Amon. It’s 33 years since a New Zealander, Mike Thackwell, last raced in Formula 1.

President of MotorSport New Zealand, Wayne Christie says: “Everyone at MotorSport New Zealand and our wider motorsport community are already very proud of Brendon Hartley’s achievements as a driver, having won with FIA World Endurance Championship and the famous Le Mans race with his Porsche team-mates.

“We congratulate Brendon on being selected for this one-off drive and we hope it leads to yet more opportunities for one of our best drivers,” says Christie.

“Brendon’s goal has always been to compete at the pinnacle of the motorsport internationally and F1 is that pinnacle. He has significant experience as a F1 reserve driver, alongside his considerable expertise as a sports car driver. We are very pleased for him that he has made the next step to achieving his F1 goal, and this news again demonstrates that Kiwis really do punch above our weight internationally in motorsport.”

Of the news that he would replace Pierre Gasly at Toro Rosso for the US Grand Prix, Hartley said: “What an amazing feeling! This opportunity came as somewhat of a surprise, but I never did give up on my ambition and childhood dream to reach F1. I have grown and learnt so much since the days when I was the Red Bull and Toro Rosso reserve driver, and the tough years I went through made me stronger and even more determined.

“I want to say a huge thanks to Red Bull for making this a reality, and to Porsche for allowing me to do this alongside the World Endurance Championship. The COTA is a track I really enjoy and one I have raced at recently. I’m trying not to put too many expectations on my F1 debut, but I feel ready for it.”

Hartley last tested with the team back in 2009. Eight years later, he will be taking part in his first Formula 1 Grand Prix, at the Circuit of the Americas, alongside Daniil Kvyat.

Kiwi fans saw Hartley race at home as a teenager and key among his achievements in single seaters was, at the age of 15 in 2005, becoming the winner of the first-ever race of the inaugural Toyota Racing Series. That year, he also attended and graduated from New Zealand’s highly-regarded Elite Motorsport Academy which offers an annual one-week intensive training camp and year-long coaching programme to assist up to nine motorsport competitors with their mental and physical fitness, and sponsorship, marketing, nutrition and media skills.

Christie, who chairs the MotorSport NZ Scholarship Trust, says to see a graduate of the Elite Motorsport Academy to be selected for F1 is an absolute highlight for him and the other trustees. “The Elite Academy has contributed to the skills needed by Hartley and many of our other successful international competitors such as Hayden Paddon and Shane van Gisbergen to go forward and achieve great things in world motorsport. The Academy’s success can be demonstrated by the number of graduates who are performing with distinction on the world stage.”

With the support of a number of New Zealanders, Hartley headed for Europe at the age of 16 and, after much hard work, has a number of notable achievements to his credit including being reserve driver for the Red Bull F1 team in 2009 and 2010 and part of the Red Bull Academy. He tested with Mercedes F1 in France in 2012, then switched to sports cars. In 2015 he was crowned WEC Champion alongside Mark Webber and Timo Bernhard and, in June this year, won the Le Man 24 Hour Race with fellow Kiwi Earl Bamber and Timo Bernhard.

This weekend Hartley is racing with Bamber and Porsche LMP1 team-mates at the Japanese round of the FIA World Endurance Championship.

Christie adds: “Up and coming competitors may like to note that applications for the 2018 Elite Motorsport Academy have just opened. Refer to the Academy section of our website, www.motorsport.org.nz for more information.”

Source: MotorSport NZ PR

Photo: Toro Rosso

Bamber and Hartley champion NZ motorsport with Le Mans win

Kiwis Earl Bamber and Brendon Hartley, with German team-mate Timo Bernhard, staged an incredible comeback to win the 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours. The drivers and Porsche crew never gave up even though the number two Porsche 919 LMP1 Hybrid was, at one point, 19 laps off the lead and second to last in the standings, and then won the famous race by a lap over the nearest car.

Bamber, originally from Whanganui, is now a two-time Le Mans winner, adding this win which has been described as ‘a comeback of remarkable proportions’ to his 2015 Le Mans victory. Hartley, originally from Palmerston North, adds his first Le Mans win to his already impressive race résumé which includes the 2015 world endurance championship title.

It is the first time since 1966, when Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon took their Ford GT40 to victory, that two New Zealanders have been in the winning car and Hartley was happy to have repeated the feat with his childhood friend. “That was a real fight,” he told Giles Richards at The Guardian. “You can’t write these stories. It’s Le Mans, it’s always unpredictable, sometimes you don’t believe that such a story exists but it did. I am happy to be sharing this with Earl. We’ve known each other since we were seven years old.”

Bamber was equally elated. “I can’t believe we’ve managed to pull this one off having been at the back of the field after an hour in the pit-box,” said Bamber. “Both Brendon and Timo have been part of the Porsche LMP programme from the beginning while this victory is as much down to the guys in the pits. Without their hard work, we wouldn’t have got back racing again so this win is down to them.”

Back home in New Zealand, motorsport fans have saturated social media with their congratulations for the star Kiwi drivers, which added to an exciting weekend of international motorsport for Kiwis with Scott McLaughlin and Fabian Coulthard securing race wins at the latest Supercars round in Darwin.

MotorSport New Zealand CEO, Brian Budd says: “Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber’s win of the Le Mans 24 Hour Race was a fantastic effort and again highlights the fact that New Zealand continues to punch above its weight on the international motorsport stage.

“It’s also fantastic to see IndyCar super star Scott Dixon, driving for Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA, and Aston Martin factory driver Richie Stanaway both finish this year’s Le Mans race in the top 10 of the GTE Pro category. To finish this race is an achievement that can not be underrated.

“Across the Tasman, New Zealand competitors continue their dominance in the Australian V8 Supercar Championship with Fabian Coulthard leading by 10 points from Scott McLaughlin, and fellow Kiwi and defending Supercars champion Shane van Gisbergen in fourth.

“Everyone at MotorSport New Zealand and across the wider New Zealand motorsport fraternity are immensely proud of the continued successes and achievements of our competitors both at home and abroad.”

Budd adds: “There are other New Zealanders who contributed to the Porsche factory team winning Le Mans for the third consecutive year, notably Amiel Lindesay, originally from Onehunga, Auckland, who holds the pivotal role of crew chief in the 250-strong Porsche LMP Team.”

Budd also notes two key links in the formative years of Bamber and Hartley’s careers. “Both Earl and Brendon raced in the Toyota Racing Series with Earl the youngest winner of the Lady Wigram Trophy at age 17, until 16-year-old Lance Stroll won it in 2015. Brendon was the first-ever winner of a TRS race.

“Both Earl and Brendon attended the Elite Motorsport Academy – Earl in 2007 and Brendon in 2005. Managed by the MotorSport New Zealand Scholarship Trust, the Elite Academy shows it continues to play an important role in preparing young New Zealand motorsport competitors for the pressures of international competition.”

Source: MotorSport NZ PR

Photo: Porsche