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Hartley Reigns In Spain With Top-Six Finishes

Red Bull New Zealand Ltd • PO Box 91-135 • Auckland
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Hartley Reigns In Spain With Top-Six Finishes

New Zealand’s New Champion plans for 2008

Newly-crowned Champion Brendon Hartley was fastest in qualifying and scored two more top six finishes to round out his triumphant 14-race Formula Renault Euro Cup season at the Barcelona circuit in Spain at the weekend.

Back-to-back podium finishes in Portugal the previous weekend had earned the 17-year-old Palmerston North driver an unassailable championship lead going into the two-race, final round.

As at Estoril a week ago, more than 50 young drivers were entered at the finale, staged at the 4.6 km Circuit de Catalunya, the home of the F1 Spanish Grand Prix.

Surrounded by an intense Barcelona battle for the runner-up Euro Cup placing, the Red Bull youngster ended his European season with fourth and fifth in the two 16-lap races.

During his impressive 2007 Euro Cup season Hartley scored four race wins, four pole positions, two second placings, two third placings and claimed fastest lap three times.

He finished in the top six at 11 of the 14 races adding his name to a list of Euro Cup winners that includes Felipe Massa ,Scott Speed, Kamui Kobayashi and Filipe Albuquerque.

Attention now turns to Hartley’s international racing plans for 2008. His Manager Peter ‘PJ’ Johnston and his father Bryan have been with him for the two races on the Iberian Pensinsula and throughout the weekend they have been evaluating options with Dr Helmut Marko.

The Austrian runs the Red Bull Junior programme and was in Spain to see Hartley race and plan his future. Dr Marko is a former Grand Prix driver and in the early 1970’s raced alongside New Zealander Howden Ganley in the BRM team.

A number of top British and European teams are now vying to sign Hartley, the youngest ever Euro Cup winner. They are impressed with the teenager’s speed and consistency at such a young age. His prize for winning the Euro Cup was a 200,000 Euro ($NZ 400,000) grant, that can be used to finance participation in World Series Formula Renault 3.5 next year.

However, Hartley’s racing plans for 2008 are still under discussion because there are also options for the fast kiwi to compete in either British or European Formula 3. Both are proven step-off points for Grand Prix careers. Hartley also tested pre-season for Colin Giltrap’s A1 World Cup Team.

Less than three years after winning the very first Toyota Racing Series event at Timaru during the inaugural season of the New Zealand Championship, Hartley is in a unique position. He is the first New Zealand driver to have earned significant commercial sponsorship from the outset as he challenges the world’s best in Europe.

Red Bull’s support, backed up by an intensive development and training programme, mean Hartley is now fast tracking his career with a brand that currently supports four cars in Formula 1 Grand Prix racing. With his immediate future assured, Hartley’s plans for next year are expected to be announced by Red Bull within the next two weeks.

Hartley has already been confirmed as a Red Bull entry in the Macau Grand Prix, the world’s most prestigious Formula 3 race and a significant stepping stone for motorsport’s single seater stars of the future.

He will compete in the 25th Macau Formula 3 Grand Prix on November 17-18 in a Dallara-Mercedes run by leading British team Carlin Motorsport. On his Formula 3 debut at Zolder in Belgium earlier this year he astonished observers by taking fourth place in one of the toughest races of the year, the Formula 3 Masters.

Hartley’s exceptional pace was demonstrated to Helmut Marko during qualifying in Spain last weekend. His fastest lap was 0.1sec better than Jon Lancaster, the Englishman who won both the previous races in Portugal. The New Zealander’s Epsilon Red Bull team mate Stefano Coletti qualified third fastest and he was one of a gaggle of drivers chasing second overall in the Euro Cup.

Hartley’s pole position was swamped at the start of the Saturday race and he was also hampered by a flapping engine cover that caused drag during the race. Lancaster won comfortably from Epsilon Red Bull driver Jaime Alguersuari. Frenchman Charles Pic was third with Hartley 2.6 seconds behind the winner in fourth place.

Having qualified third for the Sunday race, Hartley was again caught up in the frantic scramble for second overall and dropped back to finish fifth behind Lancaster, Alguersuari, Pic and Coletti.

The final Euro Cup Championship points confirmed Hartley’s season long domination, winning the title with 134pts to Lancaster’s 97pts – a points advantage equivalent of more than two race wins. Pic on 88pts claimed third overall with Colletti fourth on 71pts, Alguersuari fifth on 66pts and German driver Frank Kechele rounding out the top six on 64pts.

29th October, 2007

Issued by Murray Taylor on behalf of Red Bull New Zealand.

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