Brendon Hartley all set for Silverstone
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KIWI DRIVER EAGER TO GET BACK TO A ‘REAL DRIVER’S CIRCUIT’
As Porsche prepares for this year’s round of the LMP1 endurance racing, one of its main drivers, New Zealander Brendon Hartley, is excited about the first race.
The opening round of the eight-race championship is a six-hour event at Silverstone on April 12 and Hartley is keen to get strapped in for some action.
“It’s going to be a great race at Silverstone.
‘‘Nobody is going to be sure which way it’s going to go. It will be a fantastic race that’s for sure, and looking at the test it’s going to be very tight between all the manufacturers.
“I love Silverstone and I think most drivers do as well. There’s a lot of history there and I lived in Milton Keynes for a while so it’s my second home track. There’s not a lot of elevation change but there’s a nice complex of corners — Copse, Maggotts and Becketts — that are very high speed. A real driver’s circuit.
“You’re on the limit most of the time and feeling the car at high speed is great and the track normally generates close racing.”
Porsche won the last round of the World Endurance Championship in Brazil last season and has developed a new second-generation 919 Hybrid LMP1 car for the 2015 campaign.
It’s a ground-up design based on the same concept as last year’s model and the driver line-up is the same as last year with Hartley sharing duties with Mark Webber and Timo Bernhard.
Although the car has been designed from scratch, including a monocoque chassis, the hybrid powertrain has been evolved rather than reinvented.
After development testing at Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi the car was shipped to France for the WEC Prologue test at Paul Ricard held last week, which included other manufacturers.
Hartley and his crew were there with the sister car of Marc Lieb, Romain Dumas and Neel Jani and the two Porsches consistently set the fastest times in every session, with Jani setting the fastest overall time.
“It was a very positive test and we achieved a lot,” says Hartley, who is from Germany.
“Setting the fastest times is a bonus but you’re only looking at one lap time. What’s important for us is looking how we do over a full set of tyres. Being on top of the timesheets only tells one part of the story.
“The competition is looking very stiff and we still don’t know if our competitors showed us everything they’ve got. There’s always a bit of playing at these tests, but it looks like we’re competitive.
“The new car is an evolution of last year’s and there have been improvements everywhere on it. To actually drive the car is not that different — it’s just better in all areas. We developed the old car all through last season and took those points and put them in the new car.”
The improvements made throughout the entire car will enable Porsche to make a serious challenge down to the more established Audis and Toyotas.
Being the quickest at the Prologue was a boost for the team, but more importantly they were able to gauge the new car against the rest of the field to find places that still need improvement.