Motorsport: Hartley seeks win

By Eric Thompson

Kiwi driver second in Hungary but out to do better

Brendon Hartley will be racing his Le Mans Series machine at Paul Ricard in France this weekend.
Brendon Hartley will be racing his Le Mans Series machine at Paul Ricard in France this weekend.

New Zealand sportscar driver Brendon Hartley and his Murphy Prototypes team head into the final round of the 2013 European Le Mans Series at Paul Ricard, France, this weekend.

Hartley and co-driver Jonathan Hirschi are on a bit of a roll after a second place finish at the last round at the Hungaroring and the team are determined to get a win before the season is out.

After Hartley qualified the car on pole for the Three Hours of Hungaroring, the team put in a valiant effort to finish second in a race hampered by changing weather conditions. The Kiwi put in the drive of the season to hunt down the race leader, but time ran out before he could close the gap on the leading car and mount a challenge.

"It was a little bit frustrating that we couldn't do that little bit better and get the win," said Hartley. "The other guys [Signatech Alpine] were on Michelin tyres and that sort of won it for them.

"The conditions were pretty mixed and I suppose it was hard for everyone, and I just needed a slightly longer race to get on to the tail of the leading car.

"I was a full lap down when I jumped in the car, but the car was awesome and so fast. I'm feeling so confident in the car now, which helps when the conditions are so tricky. I can't wait to get to the track and get our first win."

Team owner Greg Murphy reckons Hartley is at the top of his game, and along with Hirschi will be the pair to beat this weekend. Hartley will race with the team despite a clash of dates in the American Grand-Am Series where he drives for the Starworks Motorsport Team in a Daytona Prototype.

Hirschi has had solid performances at the Red Bull Ring in August and the Hungaroring last time out and Hartley is looking forward to teaming up again.

"Jonathan did a fantastic job in the last two rounds and it's a pleasure to drive alongside him. The conditions at Hungaroring were, at times, treacherous and it takes a very talented and focused driver to finish a stint without any mistakes.

"I think together we have a great chance of winning at Paul Ricard. If the car performs as well as it did in Hungary and the weather conditions are right, there is no reason why we won't be standing on the top step of the podium together.

"We've had our fair share of problems this season and it's great the team has managed to get on top of them. The team has done a fantastic job all season and just keep on getting better.

"I also would like to thank my team at Starworks for allowing me to race in the ELMS, despite being under contract with them in Grand-Am in the US," said Hartley.

The Murphy Prototypes team is full of confidence and will be going for glory over the race weekend. There is no denying that at the beginning of the season the team had its issues, as well as showing the occasional burst of scintillating speed. As with any fledgling outfit there are bound to be teething problems, but it would appear Murphy and his crew have put all that behind them.

"We're definitely looking forward to the race here at Paul Ricard. We found some issues at the start of the season that were hampering our lap times but sorted them out midseason," said Hartley. "Everything almost came together in Austria before the starter motor problem and since then the team has worked really hard to get the car even better.

"We're really confident for Paul Ricard but it's a long race and anything can happen. We don't have a shot at winning the championship [eighth on the point's table] because of the dramas earlier this year so we'll be going all out to get the race win this time at Paul Ricard," he said.

- NZ Herald

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