Saturday, Mar 16 05:01pm
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

Brendon Hartley podiums on endurance racing return

After over a year away from the FIA World Endurance Championship, Brendon Hartley has helped take SMP Racing to their second podium this season.


Toyota Gazoo Racing dominated the 1000 Miles of Sebring to score a 1-2 finish with the Buemi, Alonso, Nakajima driven no.8 TS050 ahead of the sister Conway, Kobayashi, Lopez no.7 car.


Racing at the ‘Super Sebring’ weekend, Hartley finished third with Russian co-drivers Vitaly Petrov and Mikhail Aleshin in their non-hybrid Gibson-powered BR Engineering BR 1.  


The 29-year-old filled in for 2009 Formula 1 World Championship title winner Jenson Button who is on pre-season SUPER GT Series testing duty for Honda.


It’s the first time Hartley has finished on the podium since the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship in his final drive with Porsche and their 919 Hybrid in Bahrain.


Hartley came across the line third in what was a race of attrition for the front runners. While Toyota Gazoo Racing dominated proceedings, the other LMP1 entries struggled.


Rebellion Racing looked odds on to finish on the podium until an issue with the no.3 R13 suffered a loss of power later in the race. Hartley blew by, but the Rebellion fell further down the field and several laps down on the lead.


The sister no.1 R13 also encountered issues with a gearbox problem. The sole no.6 DragonSpeed BR Engineering BR 1 also suffered mechanical problems that put them out of the running.


While one SMP Racing car was at the fore, the second got caught out. Egor Orudzhev crashed early in the race at the high-speed Turn 1 and had to retire with too much front end damage.


The eight-hour affair got a late dose of drama as rain began to fall heavily with half an hour to go. With 13 minutes to go Loic Duval put his car ended up in the tyre barrier in the TDS Racing Oreca 07 and ensured that the race finished under the safety car.


Hartley will rest up overnight before going racing again in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring for Action Express in their Cadillac DPi with Filipe Albuquerque and João Barbosa. 


CLICK HERE for full 1000 Miles of Sebring results