Hartley relishing double Sebring programme

Sportscar returnee Brendon Hartley is relishing the opportunity to race at Sebring twice in the same weekend as he gets set for a dual programme in the IMSA Sportscar Championship and the FIA World Endurance Championship.

The New Zealander – a WEC champion with the Porsche LMP1 team – is set for his first endurance race for the first time since he was dropped from Toro Rosso’s Formula One line-up and has found a seat in two top category teams.

First, he will tackle the 100 Miles of Sebring in SMP Racing’s BR1 LMP1 entry – where he partners Vitaly Petrov and Mikhail Aleshin – before jumping across to the Action Express Cadillac DPi he shares with Joao Barbosa and Filipe Albuquerque for Saturday’s 12 Hours.

Hartley admitted both deals came together at short notice and didn’t realise the scale of how much combined running he’ll be doing throughout the weekend.

“Both deals came together relative late, especially the SMP deal, they got in touch with me less than two months ago, or even one month ago, to say that there is a seat available and would I be interested? Both teams allowed that I could do both races, which I was really happy about,” Hartley said. "It kind of dawned on me in the last couple of days that it is going to be very intense for me, and the challenge of jumping between cars is not easy. Especially not on the same weekend. But I still see it as a positive, before I hopped into the Cadillac for the first time I had already done a lot of laps around the track so there were fewer unknowns.”

As well as the challenge of tackling two long distance races in two days, extra complexity has been put on Hartley’s shoulders because he is experiencing both cars for the first time this weekend. However, the 29-year-old is relishing the opportunity to get to grips with both cars.

He added: “The drivetrain is very different between the two cars – it is the same chassis actually which is helpful – but the levels of downforce are less restricted in LMP1 so they are different to drive. It’s very clear that Action Express has to be to Sebring many times, they know endurance racing over here and the car felt very solid. They are different animals to drive, but I am enjoying both. It is just going to be a bit of a challenge jumping between and being straight on the pace. Race day I think it will be less of an issue but on days with a lot of practice, jumping between the two cars – especially with different systems, pitlanes in different places – it is more challenging.

“It is going to be a challenge but I’m up for it, I’m going to use my experience to the best of my ability.”