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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

Baldwin tops Elite Motorsport Academy points to date

Nineteen-year-old race driver Jordan Baldwin has topped the points-table following the intensive week-long camp in Dunedin which commences the New Zealand Elite Motorsport Academy programme for 2017.

Baldwin, from Howick, Auckland, is one of eight young motorsport competitors selected to participate in the year-long training and coaching programme designed to provide the competitors with an array of skills and knowledge to help them progress more quickly in their motorsport career. Managed by the MotorSport New Zealand Scholarship Trust, the Elite Motorsport Academy is run by world-class tutors from Otago Academy of Sport and the University of Otago’s School of Physical Education’s Human Performance Centre.

Baldwin, who has raced mini-stocks and karts with considerable success and is currently a regular top-three place-getter in the hugely-popular and competitive BMW Race Series, says his motivation in seeking to be selected for the Elite Motorsport Academy programme stemmed from seeing the accelerated development of earlier academy participants.

“A lot of them have come out [of the academy programme] and been extremely successful,” says Baldwin. “It’s what you learn about what to do outside of the car at the Elite Academy – that’s a huge part of being as good as we can be inside the car. It’s crucial to what happens on race day.”

The academy camp sees participants learn a wide array of skills and techniques to aid their mental and physical fitness as a motorsport competitor, as well as the sponsorship and marketing, nutrition and media skills needed to succeed in the sport.

“Coming to grips with all those aspects of being a top competitor, all those steps to make sure we’re the best we can be, that learning has been fantastic,” says Baldwin. “It’s been one of the best weeks of my life. What you’ll learn is far more than you can ever learn somewhere else. The academy is run so professionally. Everyone involved does an amazing job.”

The academy programme also provides a twelve-month follow-up package tailored for each participant to ensure they retain and further develop the training regimes and educational opportunities demonstrated during the camp.

“I have a lot of ground to cover over the next 12 months; I want to develop as much as I can,” says Baldwin who aims to compete in the one-make, ultra-competitive Toyota 86 Championship. “I’m looking forward to working with the providers assigned to assist me with the year-long programme ahead – they’re all world-class. I want to put everything I can into making sure I’m the best, to see how much I can develop in the next 12 months and into the future.”

The top three for the 2017 NZ Elite Motorsport Academy camp points total included 19-year-old race driver Arran Crighton, from Auckland, in second place and 25-year-old rally driver Jack Williamson, from Hamilton, in third.

Trustee David Turner says it’s been another great year at the Elite Motorsport Academy camp. “We’re delighted to now know another truly great bunch of people who have embraced the concept and values of the programme. Since 2004 we have now had a total of 123 athletes go through this programme which has set new standards and benchmarks for our young driving talents. The Elite Academy has more than proven that we bred very highly recognised talent in this country, highlighted by the fact that 30 per cent of all Elite Academy students go on to compete on the international world stage. The recent victory in the 2017 24 Hours of Le Man by Kiwis Brendon Hartley (class of 2005) and Earl Bamber (class of 2007) is a shining example.”

Turner adds: “The class of 2017 were very competitive and it was a very tightly-fought battle to top the points-table from the camp. Well done to Jordan to edging out the other seven athletes in close competition.

“The battle for the Ian Snellgrove Trophy – awarded to the top Elite Motorsport Academy graduate each year – now carries on across the balance of the year. The 2017 participants continue to focus on the post-camp sections of the academy though until May of 2018 where the winner will be announced at the 2018 Motorsport New Zealand awards night. It will be fascinating to see how each of our athletes do and I most certainly look forward to working with them and see the process in the coming months.”

The 2017 Elite Motorsport Academy participants are:

  • Jordan Baldwin, 19, race driver, Auckland
  • Sarah Brennan, 25, rally co-driver, Christchurch
  • Arran Crighton, 19, race driver, Auckland
  • Samantha Gray, 22, rally co-driver, Lincoln
  • Reece Hendl-Cox, 16, race driver, Whakatane
  • Kaleb Ngatoa, 16, kart/race driver, Marton
  • Job Quantock, 23, rally driver, Christchurch
  • Jack Williamson, 25, rally driver, Hamilton

New Zealand’s Elite Motorsport Academy first ran in 2004 with race drivers Nelson Hartley, Christina Orr, Chris Pither and Tim Edgell among the selected participants that year. Since then, many academy graduates have forged successful international careers such as Shane van Gisbergen, Brendon Hartley, Hayden Paddon, Earl Bamber and Mitch Evans.

Follow the Elite Motorsport Academy on Facebook.

Source: MotorSport NZ PR

Photo: David Turner

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