Story By: MUSTANG SAMPLING RACING – DENVER, NC – The racing shoes of the retiring Christian Fittipaldi are large ones to step in to, but Mustang Sampling Racing has secured an outstanding addition for the driver line up in the 2019 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring as Brendon Hartley has been confirmed with the team.
Hartley will join Joao Barbosa and Filipe Albuquerque in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R for Round two of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, set for March 16 at Sebring International Raceway.
Hartley, a 29-year-old native of New Zealand, has a racing resume that includes experience in everything from Formula 1 to GRAND-AM, as well as an overall victory at Le Mans in 2017. Currently a test and simulator driver for the Ferrari F1 team, Hartley also has been an occasional competitor in North American competition, winning the 2017 Petit Le Mans and the 2013 Rolex Series race at Road America. Hartley finished 10th at Sebring in 2017, his lone attempt at the 12-hour classic.
Hartley will join the 2015 race-winning squad as the Florida circuit stages the second round of the 2019 IMSA championship and also marks round two of the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup. Action Express Racing has claimed the 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 editions of the endurance title and is targeting the same outcome in 2019.
“With Christian (Fittipaldi) deciding to retire, we needed to find another driver who is fast and a great team player, and Brendon (Hartley) has a great background and attitude that should be a great match with Joao (Barbosa) and Filipe (Albuquerque),” said team manager Gary Nelson. “We’ve followed Brendon through the years since we first saw him race so well in GRAND-AM, so we are glad that it worked out for him to join us at Sebring.”
The Mustang Sampling Racing team is coming off a hard-fought seventh-place finish in the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Barbosa, Albuquerque and Fittipaldi lost multiple laps early in the race following a stop to repair an electrical issue that prevented the tail lights from working. Despite falling to 45th position, the trio clawed its way back up the scoring pylon in the rain-drenched event to gain valuable points for the DPi championship with a seventh place class result.
The Rolex 24 was the last race in Fittipaldi’s storied driving career, although he will continue to join the team at the races as Action Express Racing’s Sporting Director.
Mustang Sampling won the 2015 edition of the Sebring 12 Hours, with Barbosa, Fittipaldi and Sebastien Bourdais giving the No. 5 Corvette DP its second consecutive triumph – boosting the team in its successful bid to repeat as champions in both the WeatherTech Championship and Michelin Endurance Cup. Bourdais gave the team the pole in its Sebring debut in 2014.