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
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
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
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