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Dull end for Hartley's European race season


The final round of the 2006 Formula Renault Eurocup 2.0 series is one Palmerston North teen Brendon Hartley wants to put well behind him.

Struggling to put previous performance gains in to practise, Hartley was realistic in his weekend goal of being inside the top-10 for his Red Bull Junior Team at the Barcelona weekend.

The split session qualifying was the beginning of the end - retrospectively.

Wondering what had gotten in to the expanded grid of over 35 cars, Hartley started from 13th to be continually pushed and knocked by other drivers wanting past. The beginning of the end came when he was heavily brake tested - as reported by his MotoPark Academy team engineer. Hartley ran up the back of the car causing minimal damage to the car in front but substantial damage to the young Kiwi's front wings.

He dropped to the back of the pack and pitted to be retired from the race.

The dawning of a new day on the Sunday seemed like a case of de ja vu. Race 14 in the 2006 season was the last and it seemed everyone thought they could get to the chequered flag first.
Hartley reported continual contact as he fought to defend his own space.

Slotted in to a clean place, history records his lap times to be on a par with the car at the front of the field - team mate and championship winner Filipe Albuquerque.

Happy to just finish, his 17th placing was well short of his own expectations, previous placings and team ability.

Staying in Europe for the next six weeks, Hartley will start testing for the 2007 season with new team Fuschl-am-See - a prospect he has said is very excited about.

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