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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

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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.]
Stefano Coletti (MON, Racing Engineering) after race 2 at Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Sunday 23 November 2014. ( Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Stefano Coletti (MON, Racing Engineering) after race 2 at Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Sunday 23 November 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Stefano Coletti (MON, Racing Engineering) after race 2 at Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Sunday 23 November 2014. (Photo: Zak Mauger/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Stefano Coletti (MON, Racing Engineering) after race 2 at Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Sunday 23 November 2014. (Photo: Zak Mauger/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Stefano Coletti (MON, Racing Engineering) after race 2 at Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Sunday 23 November 2014. (Photo: Zak Mauger/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Stefano Coletti (MON, Racing Engineering) after race 2 at Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Sunday 23 November 2014. (Photo: Zak Mauger/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Nick Yelloly (GBR, Status Grand Prix) celebrates after race 2 at Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Sunday 23 November 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.)
Patric Niederhauser (SUI, Arden International) at Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Sunday 23 November 2014. (Photo: Zak Mauger/GP3 Series Media Service.)
Arthur Pic (FRA, Campos Racing) leads Stefano Coletti (MON, Racing Engineering) and Stephane Richelmi (MON, DAMS) at the start of the sprint race at Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Sunday 23 November 2014. (Photo: Zak Mauger/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Stefano Colleti (MON, Racing Engineering), Felipe Nasr (BRA, Carlin) and Arthur Pic (FRE, Campos Racing) celebrate on the podium after the sprint race at Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Sunday 23 November 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Stefano Coletti (MON, Racing Engineering) celebrates after the sprint race at Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Sunday 23 November 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Patric Niederhauser (SUI, Arden International) first, Nick Yelloly (GBR, Status Grand Prix) second, Alex Lynn (GBR, Carlin) third in race 2 at Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Sunday 23 November 2014. (Photo: Zak Mauger/GP3 Series Media Service.)
Nick Yelloly (GBR, Status Grand Prix) and Patric Niederhauser (SUI, Arden International) at the start of race 2 at Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Sunday 23 November 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.)
Patric Niederhauser (SUI, Arden International) wins race 2 at Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Sunday 23 November 2014. (Photo: Zak Mauger/GP3 Series Media Service.)

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