Former Toro Rosso Formula 1 driver and two-time WEC champion Brendon Hartley will replace the now-retired Christian Fittipaldi in Action Express Racing’s No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R for the 12 Hours of Sebring.
Hartley will share the Cadillac prototype with Action Express stalwarts Filipe Albuquerque and Joao Barbosa. This will mark the second time Hartley has raced in the 12 Hours of Sebring, having also raced for the now defunct Tequila Patron ESM team in 2017. The Kiwi has also made numerous appearances in the Prototype/DP class at the 24 Hours of Daytona and won Petit Le Mans with ESM in 2017 as well.
“With Christian deciding to retire, we needed to find another driver who is fast and a great team player, and Brendon has a great background and attitude that should be a great match with Joao and Filipe,” AXR team boss Gary Nelson told Motorsport.com. “We’ve followed Brendon through the years since we first saw him race so well in Grand-Am [in 2013], so we are glad that it worked out for him to join us at Sebring.”
Hartley was left high and dry at the end of 2018 when the Red Bull-owned Toro Rosso team elected to replace him with one of its junior drivers, Alexander Albon. Hartley will remain busy in 2019, though, having signed a deal with Ferrari to serve as one of its simulator drivers and also joining Russian LMP1 squad SMP Racing for a number of WEC rounds.
Hartley is also helping Porsche with its Formula E program development and is believed to be in the frame for one of its seats in the electric single seater series as well. He won two WEC LMP1 championships with Porsche, one in 2015 and one in 2017, and also the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The 12 Hours of Sebring will go green on March 16th.
Photos by Richard Dole via IMSA