Brendon Hartley is eager to get the full potential out of the new Le Mans prototype Porsche during the remaining seven races of the World Endurance Championship (WEC).
The Palmerston North driver's team finished third after 165 laps in the Porsche 919 Hybrid on its international racing debut at the Silverstone six-hour race.
"The best way for a team to learn about a new car is to go racing," Hartley reflected.
"It was an awesome feeling to stand on the podium and spray the champagne."
Hartley, who no longer works for the Mercedes Formula 1 team, shared the new Porsche with Mark Webber and German driver Timo Bernhard in constantly changing wet and dry weather.
Their sister car retired after 1 hour 15 minutes with a technical problem and the overall win went to Toyota.
In the practice sessions, Hartley focused on long runs in the car while Webber set the fastest lap time in the final session. Webber and Bernhard shared the Sunday qualifying and Bernhard started the race from sixth while Hartley took over for the middle stint of the race.
"The track was greasy for my two one-hour stints on slick tyres so I had to be cautious," Hartley said.
"It was an amazing feeling to bring the car back after my very first stint as a Porsche factory driver and hand it over to Mark."
Hartley maintained third place during his two hours at the wheel.
The car's eagerly awaited race debut was deemed a success by the team, competing as a factory team in the top level of the World Championship for the first time in 16 years. With two energy recovery systems, the Porsche 919 Hybrid is the most complex race car Porsche has ever built, and serves as the fastest mobile research laboratory for future road cars.
Besides the kinetic energy recovery system under braking, the car recuperates thermal exhaust energy when accelerating. When the driver recalls the stored energy from the liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery packs, an electric motor drives the two front wheels with more than 250 horsepower.
"We have developed the car rapidly during the last three months of testing," Hartley said. "Our car was reliable in the first race and we still have a lot of potential to unlock. I'm now looking forward to the next race at Spa in Belgium in two weeks . . . and then Le Mans for the 24 Hours in June."
- Manawatu Standard
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