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Porsche LMP1 Reflections: Brendon Hartley

Two-time WEC champion Brendon Hartley looks back on his time in Porsche’s LMP1 program…

Photo: Porsche

We take a look back at some of the key moments in Porsche’s four-year run with the 919 Hybrid through the eyes of those involved with the championship-winning program. Next up is newly crowned two-time FIA WEC champion Brendon Hartley.

In winning two FIA World Endurance Championships, Brendon Hartley has become one of the most successful drivers during Porsche’s time in LMP1, despite joining the program with considerably less sports car experience than his teammates.

The Kiwi secured his second world title in Shanghai last weekend along with co-drivers Timo Bernhard and Earl Bamber, after winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans earlier this season.

Hartley says the opening year of the race program, namely a pivotal weekend in Brazil in 2014, as one that he remembers the most vividly.

“The biggest moment for me was in Brazil, seeing Mark [Webber] have that massive crash, and me and Timo standing by the hospital bed,” he told Sportscar365.

“That was a big moment in a way that brought us together as a team and how we recovered that next year and won the championship, but it was that same weekend that Porsche took their first victory. That was the big weekend for a few reasons.

“Our first victory was Nürburgring 2015 after Le Mans and then that string of victories that we took were really hard-fought victories, and to take that championship was obviously a very special moment together with Mark and Timo.

“The Le Mans victory, standing on the top step this year, as well.”

Hartley has racked up 12 WEC wins since 2015 but admits it wasn’t as easy as the results make it appear, with the tough level of competition in LMP1 forcing the team to constantly improve and stay one step ahead of its rivals.

“I think we won close to 50 percent of the races in the last couple of years,” he said. “It’s not like it was easy. People look back at 2015 and say, ‘Oh you had it easy,’ but we didn’t.

“They were tough races and people forget that it wasn’t just the drivers. The whole team put it together, in terms of pit stops and such.

“The whole team stepped it up in quite a few departments so it’s quite humbling to be a part of it so I’m thankful because I know how much I learned and how much of a risk they took on me in the beginning.

“A lot of people didn’t expect I’d get the drive and they took a risk on me and gave me the room to develop and grow.

Having recently made his Formula One debut with Torro Rosso, Hartley says he owes a great deal to Porsche and his teammates for helping him grow as a driver throughout his time with the LMP1 program.

“We had some highs and lows – a lot of highs – and I grew personally so much and with the team,” he said.

“Working with Mark and Timo in those first years, I learned so much from them and dealing with the pressure of being a Porsche driver, and there is some because when you arrive at Le Mans, there is a lot at stake.

“I have so many nice memories and experiences, and I can only thank everyone else involved because they really gave me the room to grow with how Andreas and Fritz handled it with all the drivers.

“It’s going to be a sad moment in Bahrain when it all comes to an end but for the moment we’ll try and enjoy every last lap we have in the car because it’s really a pleasure to drive.”

John Dagys contributed to this report

Jake Kilshaw is a UK-based journalist focusing on European series for Sportscar365. Kilshaw was the founder of WorldSportsCar.co.uk and is a member of the Autosport Academy. Contact Jake

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