The Bahrain International circuit is hosting the final round of the 2016 World Endurance Championship this coming weekend, and while it is simply the season finale for the majority of the field, for Aussie racer Mark Webber, it will signal the end of his lengthy International Motorsport career.
This is going to be a big weekend for me personally,” Mark said. “My last time competing in anger will certainly bring some strong emotions with it. Being behind the wheel has been so much of my life - I’ve driven a racing car every two-four weeks for the last 22-odd years – so chapter two will require a shift for sure.”
last time out in Shanghai, Mark’s Porsche team secured their second consecutive World Endurance Manufacturers’ Championship with a dominant display from Mark and his teammates, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley. The World Drivers’ Championship is still to be decided between the trio, who are current championship leaders, Porsche’s Romain Dumas, Neel Jani and Marc Lieb, who are currently on 152 points, and Toyota’s Stephane Sarrazin, Kamui Kobayashi and Mike Conway, who are 17 points behind on 135 points.
“Brendon, Timo and I have one goal this weekend and that’s to try and add to our victory tally for this year. It’s very nice that the team, including Brendon and Timo, are striving for that extra 1% to send me off in the best possible fashion, but likewise, I’ll be doing the same for them,” Mark added. “The form card suggests it will be a battle between ourselves and Toyota. We’re going to have to really be on top of our game to beat them again. “
The six hour endurance race provides a unique challenge of racing into the night as the sun sets over the Gulf and is challenging for the drivers, the facilities are second to none and the welcome is as warm as the weather, a perfect end to the year.
“Bahrain is a night race so track temperature will play a big role in the performance of the cars. Also, since Le Mans, we’ve been trying to help the sister car secure the drivers’ world championship, so this is a topic for car #1 to keep an eye on in the race. The best support we can give them is to win and take the points away from Toyota,” Webber emphasised.
Regardless of what happens this weekend, when all is said and done, Mark will climb from the car knowing it will be for the last time…
“It will be strange to step out of the car for the last time when the race is over, however I’m extremely proud to be going out driving very well. I feel that I’ve been contributing to the success of the Porsche programme, but my priorities lie outside the car now. With age, I see more and more risk and I’ve been very fortunate to walk away from some close shaves; for that I’m grateful,” he said..
“I’ve been privileged to work with the best personnel and teams in the world and all any driver can ask for is to have that opportunity. I’m looking forward to lending an ear to the fresh talent coming through. It’s nice to see how many young drivers are just beginning their journey, particularly in the Porsche programme.”
“I also want to take this opportunity to thank all my supporters and fans that have been on this incredible journey with me. The chemistry between drivers and supporters has never been tighter through the medium of social media. You get a chance to see what you’ve meant to people which is humbling. The fan base has truly blown me away in all the different countries I’ve driven in; the loyalty they’ve shown me is something I’ll never forget. Thank you.”