NZ driv­ing duo set for farewell

The Dominion Post - - Sport - SHAUN EADE

It will be a bit­ter­sweet mo­ment for Ki­wis Bren­don Hart­ley and Earl Bam­ber when they take the track for Porsche in the fi­nal round of the 2017 World En­durance Cham­pi­onship in Bahrain.

The duo, along­side Ger­man team-mate Timo Bern­hard, locked up the LMP1 ti­tle two weeks ago, eas­ing the pres­sure on their fi­nal race be­fore the team pulls out of WEC af­ter the Six Hours of Bahrain.

Pres­sure is some­thing Hart­ley has con­stantly jug­gled for the past five weeks. This will be his sixth con­sec­u­tive week of rac­ing as he jumps be­tween For­mula One and WEC.

While this week­end’s re­sult means lit­tle, Hart­ley’s F1 cre­den­tials mean he will be firmly un­der the spot­light yet again.

The 28-year-old has yet to sign a F1 con­tract for 2018, but Toro Rosso team prin­ci­pal Franz Tost all but con­firmed the Kiwi would be hang­ing around.

Tost told Au­tosport the de­ci­sion to sign Hart­ley and team-mate Pierre Gasly ul­ti­mately lies with Red Bull, be­fore sug­gest­ing the duo would re­turn. ‘‘Both driv­ers are strong as­sets to the team, and there­fore I don’t see any oth­ers go­ing in the car for next year,’’ he said.

His F1 drives have been marred by an un­re­li­able car, but he won’t have that prob­lem in Bahrain as he looks to make the most of one fi­nal spin in the Porsche 919 Hy­brid. In Hart­ley’s time at Porsche he has 12 race wins un­der his belt, two WEC ti­tles and one 24 Hours of Le Mans win.

‘‘I have so many in­cred­i­ble mem­o­ries with the 919 Hy­brid, team-mates, and all the boys and girls from the Porsche LMP Team. We shared some­thing very spe­cial to­gether,’’ he said.

‘‘Af­ter de­vel­op­ing the Porsche 919 for more than four years, it’s an ab­so­lute dream to drive so we will all be en­joy­ing ev­ery last lap. On one side there will be a lot of sad­ness, but on the other hand we will be giv­ing ev­ery­thing to give this project the ul­ti­mate send off it de­serves.’’

It is easy to see why he is emo­tional about the team’s exit. Hart­ley owes much of his re­cent rise to Porsche res­ur­rect­ing his ca­reer when they signed him in 2013.

It gave him ex­pe­ri­ence and, with the an­nounce­ment of their with­drawal from WEC, the im­pe­tus to reach out to Red Bull for a fi­nal chance of crack­ing F1.

Mean­while, Bam­ber, who has signed to re­turn with Porsche in the GT-cat­e­gory next year, owes Porsche for giv­ing him the ex­po­sure he had been lack­ing in his ca­reer.

‘‘Be­com­ing one of the main LMP driv­ers has been a fan­tas­tic year in which I was learn­ing a lot,’’ he said. ‘‘Stop­ping now feels dif­fi­cult be­cause I feel ev­ery race week­end we are get­ting bet­ter and bet­ter and there is still a lot more per­for­mance and a lot more that we can show.’’

Earl Bam­ber and Bren­don Hart­ley have one fi­nal race to­gether be­fore Porsche pull out of the WEC.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.