Brendon Hartley – the young hotshot
In June 2017, a pair of Kiwis raced to victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. New Zealand’s Brendon Hartley achieved this feat together with his compatriot Earl Bamber and the redoubtable German Timo Bernhard, the three racers triumphing in the Porsche 919 Hybrid.
Brendon Hartley sent Porsche LMP1 boss Fritz Enzinger an email in 2013 to offer his services as a racing driver. The New Zealand native had already made something of a name for himself in motorsport: having earned a test driver role in Formula One on the back of his wins in formula racing, Hartley had also tasted success in LMP2. Enzinger took the plunge and signed up the talented racer for the new Porsche LMP1 team.
The results over four seasons showed this to be an inspired move, with Hartley collecting two World Endurance Championship titles and winning once in Le Mans. Hartley and Timo Bernhard are the most successful endurance racers in WEC history, having recorded 12 race victories together. After winning their first World Championship title in 2015 with Mark Webber, the pair triumphed a second time in 2017 with Earl Bamber – a childhood friend of Hartley. City boy Brendon introduced his rural companion Earl to kart racing when they were just seven and six years old respectively. Several years later, the two Kiwis went their separate ways in the world of motorsport. When Mark Webber retired in 2016, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley quickly agreed their next move: ‘Let’s get Earl in as the third member of our team.’
Not merely a consistent endurance racer, Hartley also excelled with outstanding lap times that saw him nicknamed ‘our young hotshot’ within the team. When Porsche announced that it would be leaving the WEC at the end of 2017, Hartley once again seized the initiative and called Red Bull team consultant Dr Helmut Marko. This proved to be a fruitful conversation for Hartley: in addition to competing in the final Grands Prix of 2017 for Scuderia Toro Rosso, he also received a contract for the entire 2018 Formula One season.