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Brendon Hartley, at the age of 25, made New Zealand motorsport history when he was crowned a world champion alongside Porsche team-mates Mark Webber and Timo Bernhard when the trio won the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship.
Born in Palmerston North to a well-respected motorsport family, Brendon began his motor racing career in karts at the age of six, following in the tyre tracks of older brother Nelson. The Hartley boys’ father, Bryan, had raced in many forms of motorsport, most notably Formula Atlantic. In 2002, aged 12, Brendon contested his first full championship, Formula First, finishing seventh against many seasoned veterans. A major break came when Brendon won the New Zealand Formula Ford Festival to earn a drive in the Formula Ford championship. He competed in the first season of the Toyota Racing Series, and won the first ever TRS race at Timaru in 2005, aged 15.
With the drive and talent to make a career from racing, and just 16 years of age, Brendon made the move to Europe where he raced in a two-litre Formula Renault in the German and European Championships. In 2007 he won the World Series by Renault, a win that would become a defining time for him in a foreign country.
He joined the Red Bull talent pool and worked hard. A Formula 3 debut followed in 2007 as well the opportunity to drive for A1 Team New Zealand for the first A1 race season. Another breakthrough followed Brendon’s success in the 2008 Formula 3 Grand Prix in Macau – having started 20th, he finished third and set the fastest lap of the race – a phone call from Red Bull asked if he could stand in for the injured Mark Webber at a Formula 1 test.
For the 2009 and 2010 seasons, Brendon was contracted as official reserve driver for both the Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso teams. He made his debut as reserve and test driver at the Spanish Grand Prix on 8 May 2009, becoming the first New Zealander to achieve F1 driver status since Mike Thackwell in 1984.
Brendon had a F1 contract up to and including 2013 – first with Red Bull Racing, and then for the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team, where his simulator work was highly regarded. But a racing driver has to race.
In 2012 he started his second career as a long distance racer, driving for Murphy Prototypes in the 2013 European Le Mans Series, and competing in iconic races like the Daytona 24-Hour, Bathurst 12-Hour and Le Mans.
In 2014 Brendon secured a Porsche factory contract to drive the Porsche 919 Hybrid in the FIA World Endurance Championship. With three podium finishes from eight events in 2014, Brendon and team-mates Mark Webber and Timo Bernhard then secured four race wins and two podium finishes in 2015 to become the FIA World Endurance Drivers’ Champions. There is much more to come from one of New Zealand’s most talented circuit racers.