Kiwi Hartley teams with Webber for Le Mans
New Zealand's Brendon Hartley has been teamed with Australian Formula One great Mark Webber in Porsche's state-of-the-art entry for this year's Le Mans 24 Hours race and the World Endurance Championship.
Porsche confirmed their driving lineups as they unveiled the new 919 Hybrid at the Geneva International Motor Show today.
Nine-time GP winner Webber will head Porsche's return the top flight of endurance racing. He will share car No 20 with Hartley and Timo Bernhard (Germany). Porsche's second car (No 14) will be shared by Romain Dumas (France), Neel Jani (Switzerland) and Marc Lieb (Germany).
Hartley said he was thrilled to have Webber in his driving mix.
The team has just spent a week in Germany doing fitness tests and having their race seats fitted.
Hartley is now heading to the Sebring International Raceway in Florida for four days of testing.
"With 28 degrees air temp and a track that tests the strength of a car like no other, it makes perfect sense," Hartley said of his looming track work.
The 919 will make its racing debut at the Silverstone 6 Hours race in Britain on April 19-20.
Porsche is returning to the top level of endurance racing after a 16-year absence and faces hybrids from Audi and Toyota in the new LMP1 class.
Hartley is upbeat.
"The team is very capable and a very good bunch of guys that we're working with," Hartley told Sportscar365.
"I have a lot of faith in the people I'm working with and my teammates ... what a fantastic group of teammates. So far, we're all getting on very well.
"I can't really comment on where we're at compared to other cars because we don't know. We haven't tested on track [against the competition] but I have a lot of confidence in everyone at the team."
Hartley is thrilled at the quick success he has had after abandoning his F1 dream to switch to endurance e racing where he has gained a glamour drive with Porsche.
"I'm really excited for the year ahead and feel that I'm on top of my driving and have been for the last year," Hartley said.
"My confidence is high. To be able to work with such talented and experienced teammates, I think I can learn a little bit from every single one of them.
"It's a really unique opportunity with me being the youngest in the program and obviously the least experienced. But I have the opportunity to learn from the others as I continue to develop as a sports car driver."
The 919 represents the new-age of "green" racing.
Internal-combustion motivation comes via a 2.0-liter gasoline V-4, which produces around 500 horsepower, and operates with two energy-recovery systems.
An electric motor mounted on the front axle can recover energy during braking and store it in a lithium-ion battery pack. It can also drive the front wheels in certain situations, giving the car temporary all-wheel drive.
The 919 also has a thermal energy-recovery system, which uses an electric generator powered by exhaust gases to send additional power to the battery pack.