With just 10 minutes left in the Grand-Am race on the Circuit of The Americas, there was heartbreak for the flying Kiwi after soaring through the field in Texas.
In only his second outing in a Daytona Prototype, incredibly Brendon Hartley passed the entire field and was leading comfortably when an errant GT car pulled across and took him out of the lead and the race.
When Hartley took over the number 8 Starworks Ford Riley from injured team mate Scott Mayer, he was 16th and last in the Daytona Prototypes field.
The 23 year old Kiwi said: “Thanks to Peter Baron and everyone at Starworks Motorsport who worked so hard to give me a great car.
I am absolutely gutted for the race to finish like this and I think we deserved to win today. The Number 8 Flex-Box Ford Riley was really great and having managed to pass the entire field, it is so, so disappointing. I was sure that the GT car saw me and when I went to pass him he turned in and that was it.
This is part of my learning curve and I will take the positives from it and analyse where I can to improve and come back stronger.”
Hartley is of course well-known for being a member of the Red Bull young driver programme for four years, which gave him the opportunity to be F1 reserve driver for both Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso in 2009 and 2010.
Since this deal ended in 2010 Brendon has raced in World Series by Renault, GP2 and most recently leading LMP2 in the Le Mans 24 Hours.
Brendon has been the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS F1 test and simulator development driver since 2011, and will continue in this role for 2013.
The next race in the Grand Am series is on the Porsche 250 at Barbour Motorsports Park, Birmingham, Alabama.