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Hartley racing Prototype in Daytona Rolex 24 Hour enduro

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Hartley racing Prototype in Daytona Rolex 24 Hour enduro

Brendon Hartley will make his debut in the famous Daytona 24 Hour race in Daytona, Florida next weekend The 23-year-old New Zealand professional racing driver will step up from his previous sports car successes in the Le Mans prototype class to a Daytona Prototype for the first time.

Hartley has been invited to join the Florida-based Starworks Team for the Rolex Daytona 24 Hour endurance race where he will share a 5.0-litre Ford V8-engined Riley chassis with four other drivers.

The Daytona endurance event will see Hartley and fellow Kiwi Scott Dixon competing for rival teams but both will race in American-built Riley sports Prototype chassis, built to the regulations for the Grand Am Racing Series.

“This is only my second time racing here in the States,” said Hartley from Miami,” the first time was the Petit event at Road Atlanta last year, and it’s great to be back.”

“I am delighted and excited to get this opportunity and I am really looking forward to showing what I can do in this high quality field”

Hartley worked with Starworks last season when the American team ran the LMP2 car of Murphy Prototypes at the Petit Le Mans event at Road Atlanta in October. That event was Hartley’s first in North America and came at the end of an impressive first season in sports car racing; during which he led the LMP2 class during the Le Mans 24 Hours in Murphy’s car in June.

“I have worked hard to learn the unique set of skills that are required to be a top level sports car driver and it is satisfying for that effort to now be recognised by someone like Peter Baron.

Baron was impressed with Hartley’s driving at the Petit Le Mans, which led to a test in Daytona earlier in the month and now the Rolex 24 hour.

“This is a great chance for me to prove myself in Daytona Prototypes and I’m very pleased to work alongside Peter and the Starworks team again,” said Hartley.

Starworks Motorsport qualified fastest in the 60-car field last year but are yet to win the prestigious race.

Hartley and Dixon are looking to uphold a memorable New Zealand achievement at Daytona. Forty-five years ago, in 1967, Chris Amon shared the winning Ferrari 330 P4 with Lorenzo Bandini during the sixth running of the Daytona 24 Hour race.

Next weekend Hartley will race a Ford V8-engined chassis while Dixon, a previous winner of the classic event in 2006, will be in a BMW V8-engined Riley. Dixon will race at Daytona for the Chip Ganassi team that also run him in Indycars. Dixon will be in a two car Ganassi team with a driver lineup that includes Juan Montoya, Dario Francitti and Scott Pruett.

The Daytona 24 Hour event is North American’s equivalent to the Le Mans 24 Hour race in France and the Florida event always attracts a field of leading International drivers. The 2013 Daytona race on January 26 is the 51st in a long and proud history.

Hartley’s Starworks team will field another Riley Prototype chassis for a driver line-up that includes experienced ex-Formula 1 drivers Sebastian Bourdais and Allan McNish.

The news of the Daytona opportunity comes after an impressive twelve months for Hartley. The ‘Kiwi lad from Palmerston North’ has established himself as a top sports car driver after competing strongly at Le Mans and the Petit Le Mans and took part in the Formula 1 Young Driver test for the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 team at Magny Cours Circuit in September 2012.

As well as this new test driving role, Hartley regularly evaluates components and aerodynamic developments on the Mercedes F1 team’s simulator at Brackley in Great Britain. He has been the simulator development driver since 2011, and will continue in this role for 2013, providing technical support for Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

Hartley was a member of the Red Bull Driver Development programme for four years, which gave him the opportunity to be the Formula 1 reserve driver for both Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso in 2009 and 2010. Since 2010 Brendon has raced in World Series by Renault, GP2 and most recently, LMP2 sports cars.

“Reflecting back, the last year has been good for me. The benefits are now becoming evident with exciting opportunities, like the Daytona drive next weekend.” said Hartley.

“There are other things going on with my career development in Europe , so I’m hopeful of a good 2013 season. I’m really enjoying competing in such a variety of International racing.”

While in Miami preparing for his Daytona debut, Hartley still found time to keep an eye on the live timing on his laptop computer from last weekend’s Toyota Racing Series second round at Timaru.

Nine years ago, in 2005, Hartley won the very first TRS race which was held at the South Canterbury circuit; the European test that he earned from that early performance launched him on the road to becoming a truly professional racing driver.

“I owe a lot to Toyota back at home, and I still follow their New Zealand racing closely. Barrie Thomlinson and the TRS Team have put together an impressive field again this season – so between driving stints at Daytona this weekend, I will try to keep a watch on the results from the third TRS International round at Taupo.”

ENDS


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