One of New Zealand's most successful motor racers will be taking on the Le Mans 24 Hour race this weekend for the seventh time in his career.
Brendon Hartley is teaming up with co-drivers Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima, in an attempt to add a second outright win at the iconic twice around the clock race.
Hartley is a standout driver in the World Endurance Championship and has been a regular in the LMP1 class as a factory driver first for Porsche, and now in a similar role with Toyota. He first made his mark around the Circuit de la Sarthe in 2015 where he finished second, and two years later was standing on the top step alongside fellow Kiwi Earl Bamber and German Timo Bernhard.
After a couple of years away for the famous race, Hartley is keen to get going around a circuit he enjoys.
"I'm really looking forward to the weekend. It'll be a bit different to the normal Le Mans I'm used to," Hartley told Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking.
"It's strange not having any fans here but everyone's excited about getting our biggest race of the year underway. Normally we spend 12 months of the year getting ready for this race but it's been longer this time for obvious reasons.
"I'm really pumped to get going and I can't wait to get behind the wheel of the Toyota; it's the first time for me around Le Mans [in a Toyota]."
Taking to the Toyota Gazoo Racing's TS050 like a duck to water upon joining the Japanese team in 2019 for the WEC series, Hartley has notched up a win and five second places. He's carried this form into the Le Mans 24 Hour, setting the second-fastest time during the first qualifying hit out.
"It is awesome to be back on track again, particularly here at Le Mans. Last year I got my first taste of the TS050 Hybrid in practice and you can feel that this car was made to drive here.
"It's been a real pleasure to drive the car again and to start our preparations so now I am just looking forward to the race. We've got plenty to do to be ready but we're all motivated and working hard," said Hartley.
This is the last year of the spacecraft-like LMP1 cars as the category organisers are replacing them with Le Mans Hypercars. These are based on existing manufacturers' road-going cars.
"It's probably one of the most complicated cars in the world. I have experience in the past of driving something similar, but different in a Porsche 919 that I won Le Mans in a few years ago," Hartley said.
"They [Toyota and Porsche] both have 50-page driver manuals but are quite different in how power is delivered and handled. The speeds are similar to a Formula 1 car but we have a roof.
"It's a unique form of motorsport where you have the one race and with four different races going on. We're in the fastest car then there is LMP2, GTPros and GTM. A lot of respect has to be given by us and also by the other cars on track.
"We could be doing 300km/h overtaking someone going 70 to 80km/h slower. A big part of the job is reading the car in front and working out if they have seen us and weighing the risk versus reward.
"On top of that you throw in racing at night, not on a purpose-built track as most of it is on country roads. Plus, there's the weather to contend with."
There are 59 cars hoping to make the grid comprising of 177 drivers from 31 different nations, all hoping to make it towards the end.