Extraordinary results for Kiwi drivers at the 24 Hours of Le Mans last weekend has the promise of more success to come. The 1-2 overall finish by the Porsche factory team involving Earl Bamber and Brendon Hartley won’t be a ‘one-off’. Hartley is only 25 years of age, Bamber 24, and they could well be competing at this event for another 10-15 years. Also racing at this year’s event were fellow Kiwis Mitch Evans (20) and Richie Stanaway (23). Evans finished second in the LMP2 class while Stanaway’s Aston Martin team were leading the LMGTE-Pro class until an accident halfway through the race saw them drop down the order and finish a credible fourth.
Each competing car at Le Mans had three drivers and Bamber was teamed up with current Force India F1 driver Nico Hulkenburg and Brit Nick Tandy. Fans will remember Hulkenburg driving for Team Germany and his standout performance when he competed in the A1GP Series at Taupo in January 2007. He convincingly won both Sprint and Feature races from France’s Loic Duval and Kiwi Jonny Reid. Incidentally, Duval was also at Le Mans driving for the Audi factory team, finishing fourth overall. His #8 Audi R18 e-tron quattro suffered heavy damage in the early stages of the 24 Hours of Le Mans when Duval collided with the guardrail. The hit ripped the front end of the Audi off, but Duval managed to limp the car back to the pits where the team could make repairs.