05/09/2017

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Kiwi pair Brendon Hartley, right, and Earl Bamber are out in front in the World Endurance Championship drivers standings

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Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber have extended their lead in the World Endurance Championship drivers standings with a third straight victory.

In combination with German team-mate Timo Bernhard, Kiwi duo Hartley and Bamber powered their way to the chequered flag at the Six Hours of Mexico in Mexico City on Sunday (Monday NZ time).

The No 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid, starting from pole, finished seven seconds clear of the No 1 Porsche as the German manufacturer proved too slick for LMP1 rivals Toyota at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez circuit.

Backing up previous triumphs at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Six Hours or Nurburgring in Germany, the win took the No 2 car trio to 134 points.

Toyota trio Anthony Davidson, Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi are second, 41 points back after their third place finish in Mexico with four rounds remaining.

Palmerston North product Hartley said it had been "an awesome race weekend" for the Porsche team.

"We were fast from the first session onwards and in the race our car was really amazing. Actually both our cars got away quickly from the Toyotas.

"We didn't expect to have such a pace advantage. Lapping traffic at times was a bit of a gamble as it is a tough track in that respect. The last section is like a street track but I tried to be careful and bring it home with no mistakes. Earl and Timo both did superb jobs.

"We controlled the race and didn't have to take extra risks. Mexico was fantastic and I'm looking forward to the rest of the championship."

Hartley started the race at the wheel of the No 2 car and established a solid lead before handing over to Bamber after 79 laps.

Whanganui's Bamber continued that momentum, putting in a trouble-free double-stint and lapping both Toyota's before Bernhard took over at lap 159.

The No 2 car had a lead of almost half-a-minute at one point but, with victory all-but secure, the German driver backed off the pace during the final part of the race.

"The entire weekend was fantastic," Bamber said.

"The team gave us a great car and made our life very easy. In the race it was a shame that our sister car had a penalty because some close racing would have been nice."

Hartley, a 2015 world champion with Porsche, and Bamber will race in a different category next year after the manufacturer confirmed in late July they would be ending their involvement in the LMP1 category at the conclusion of this season.

Neither have yet announced their plans but it is expected Bamber will return to Porsche's GT programme, which he was part of for several years before joining the LMP1 ranks for 2017.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/