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Late driver change for Ocean Racing

Ocean Racing Technology have brought in Brendon Hartley to replace Jon Lancaster at very short notice ahead of the Bahrain weekend's events starting on Friday morning.
Brendon Hartley is to replace British driver Jon Lancaster in the #24 Ocean Racing Technology car alongside Nigel Melkur, it emerged late on Thursday evening.

"Racing GP2 in Bahrain with Ocean Racing Technology!", tweeted the 22-year-old Kiwi driver. "Very very last minute, am still a little surprised to be here. Let's go racing!"

Hartley competed for Ocean Racing in the last two rounds of the 2011 GP2 Series as a replacement for Kevin Mirocha, having made his début in the series in the last two rounds the previous year with Scuderia Coloni filling in for the injured Vladimir Arabadzhiev. He had also been an official reserve driver for both Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso as a former longtime member of the Red Bull Junior Team.

The late change is rather unusual, with Ocean Racing's pre-race weekend press release issued on Wednesday referring to Jon Lancaster's involvement in this weekend's Bahrain feature and sprint races.

"We did some good tests in the simulator and I am sure that they will be essential going into the race weekend," the press release quoted Lancaster as saying. "I think that we will be more competitive here than in Malaysia."

But later that same day, Brendon Hartley tweeted that there as a "Chance I may be racing this weekend!" and then adding: "On my way to London Heathrow airport ... Any guesses on where I'm heading?" before subsequently revealing that he had landed in Bahrain and was on his way for an urgent seat fitting.

There was no update from Lancaster's Twitter stream or official website regarding the reason for the late change, or any official word from Ocean Racing Technology's own media channels regarding the change. It's not clear whether the change is just for this weekend or for both Bahrain race weekends - or is a potential longer-term arrangement.

Lancaster had made his GP2 début the previous month in the season opener at Sepang in Malaysia as a relatively short-notice signing to the Portuguese team. However, he retired very early in the feature race with technical issues after qualifying in 21st, and only managed to fight back to 17th place in the following day's sprint event.

However, it's not know whether the change of drivers this week is related to the performance in Malaysia, or to driver illness, issues relating to sponsorship backing, the current unease about the political situation in Bahrain - or another as-yet unidentified cause.




Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Jon Lancaster (GBR, Ocean Racing Technology) in action during day 1 of 2012 GP2 Series Testing. Barcelona, Spain. Tuesday 6th March 2012. [World Copyright: Daniel Kalisz/GP2 Series Media Service.]
Nigel Melker (NED, Ocean Racing Technology) during day 1 of GP2 Series Pre-Season Testing at Jerez, Spain - Tuesday, February 28, 2012 [World Copyright: Alastair Staley/ GP2 Series Media Service.]
Jon Lancaster (GBR, Ocean Racing Technology) in the Ocean car on day 2 of 2012 GP2 Series Testing. Barcelona, Spain. Wednesday 7th March 2012. [World Copyright: Alastair Staley/GP2 Series Media Service.]
New Zealand driver Brendon Hartley. [Photo Credit: Drew Gibson/GP2 Media Service.]
2015 GP2 Series Round 7. Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium. Sunday 23 August 2015. Alexander Rossi (USA, Racing Engineering). Photo: Zak Mauger/GP2 Series Media Service
2015 GP2 Series Round 7. Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium. Sunday 23 August 2015. Cars line up on the grid for the race. Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Media Service
2015 GP2 Series Round 7. Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium. Sunday 23 August 2015. Alexander Rossi (USA, Racing Engineering), Jordan King (GBR, Racing Engineering) & Mitch Evans (NZL, RUSSIAN TIME) Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Media Service
2015 GP3 Series Round 5. Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium. Sunday 23 August 2015. Luca Ghiotto (ITA, Trident) celebrates his win in parc ferme. Photo: Zak Mauger/GP3 Series Media Service
2015 GP3 Series Round 5. Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium. Sunday 23 August 2015. Luca Ghiotto (ITA, Trident) celebrates his win on the podium. Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service
2015 GP3 Series Round 5. Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium. Sunday 23 August 2015. Luca Ghiotto (ITA, Trident), celebrates on the podium with Esteban Ocon (FRA, ART Grand Prix) and 4. Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service
2015 GP2 Series Round 7. Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium. Sunday 23 August 2015. Alexander Rossi (USA, Racing Engineering) leads Jordan King (GBR, Racing Engineering) and the rest of the field at the start. Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Media Service
2015 GP2 Series Round 7. Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium. Sunday 23 August 2015. Alexander Rossi (USA, Racing Engineering) celebrates on the podium with Jordan King (GBR, Racing Engineering). Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Media Service
2015 GP3 Series Round 5. Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium. Sunday 23 August 2015. Matthew Parry (GBR, Koiranen GP) crashes into a wall. Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service
2015 GP3 Series Round 5. Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium. Sunday 23 August 2015. Luca Ghiotto (ITA, Trident) crosses the line to take the win. Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service
Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium. Saturday 22 August 2015. Race One Press Conference. Emil Bernstorff (GBR, Arden International), Esteban Ocon (FRA, ART Grand Prix) and Marvin Kirchhofer (GER, ART Grand Prix). Photo: Zak Mauger/GP3 Series Media Service.
Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium. Saturday 22 August 2015. Esteban Ocon (FRA, ART Grand Prix) celebrates his win in Parc Ferme. Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service
Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium. Saturday 22 August 2015. Esteban Ocon (FRA, ART Grand Prix), leads Emil Bernstorff (GBR, Arden International), Kevin Ceccon (ITA, Arden International) and the rest of the field at the start of the race. Photo: Zak Mauger/GP3 Series Media Service.
2015 GP3 Series Round 5. Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium. Saturday 22 August 2015. Esteban Ocon (FRA, ART Grand Prix), leads Kevin Ceccon (ITA, Arden International), Luca Ghiotto (ITA, Trident), Emil Bernstorff (GBR, Arden International) and the rest of the field at the start. Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service

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