Mark Webber debuts for Porsche in Portugal test

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Former Red Bull Racing Formula One driver Mark Webber has closed out Porsche’s testing program for 2013 on its new LMP1 car that will debut next year in the World Endurance Championship.

Webber, who announced his move to the WEC this past summer and closed out his F1 career with a runner-up in Brazil last month, was given permission to do the test by Red Bull, which still has him under contract until Jan. 1, 2014.

“My first day in this fascinating project was an intense experience for me,” said Webber after his run at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve in Portugal. “I would like to thank Red Bull Racing for giving me the chance to join the project so early.

“This is a major and important step for us all. It allows me to integrate with the team quicker and to contribute to further developing the LMP1 race car. We have a long way to go and it involves a lot of hard work. I have no misconceptions about this.”

Porsche’s testing in Portugal centered around suspension and tire testing with its partner, Michelin. The manufacturer’s LMP1 boss, Fritz Enzinger, emphasized the extent of testing that has taken place – saying that “significant progress” has been made up to this point.

“Every single kilometer was important, providing us with new data that brought the development forward,” said Enzinger. “The whole team has worked extremely hard and I would like to express my sincere thanks for this.

“Our efforts will continue unabated in 2014. Until the start of the [WEC] season at Silverstone [in] mid-April, there is still a lot to do.”

Up to Portugal, the Porsche factory team had also tested at multiple tracks such as France’s Magny-Cours and Paul Ricard, Italy’s Monza, and Germany’s Eurospeedway Lausitz.

Webber is one of four confirmed drivers so far for the Porsche WEC program in 2014, along with Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas and Neel Jani.

The team is expected to put two more drivers on their roster relatively shortly, with speculation most focused on Brendon Hartley and Marc Lieb as the potential additions.

Rebellion confirms LMP1 return, all-star line-up for WEC super season

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Rebellion Racing has confirmed it will return to the LMP1 class of the FIA World Endurance Championship for the 2018/19 ‘super season’ with an all-star line-up featuring Le Mans winners Neel Jani and Andre Lotterer.

Rebellion raced in LMP1 as a privateer between 2009 and 2016 before stepping down to LMP2 for the most recent season, capturing the class titles at the first attempt.

Following a push from the WEC and Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) to make LMP1 more appealing to privateer teams, Rebellion announced on Wednesday it would return to the premier class for the 2018/19 season with a two-car effort.

WEC LMP2 champion Bruno Senna will return with Rebellion next year, as will Mathias Beche, with the pair set to be joined by four new faces.

The most notable arrivals are Porsche factory drivers Lotterer and Jani, both of whom were left without an LMP1 drive following the closure of the German manufacturer’s program at the end of the season.

American racer Gustavo Menezes will also join Rebellion, stepping up after two years in LMP2, while outstanding 2017 rookie Thomas Laurent completes the Swiss team’s line-up.

“I am looking forward to coming back where my endurance career started nine years ago,” said Jani.

“Rebellion Racing played a huge role in my career and also helped me become a factory driver for Porsche. When Porsche stopped in LMP1, it was clear for me that I wanted to race again for Rebellion.

“With the new regulations, I hope we can reach the overall podium at Le Mans and with a bit of luck, maybe we can even grab some wins during the super season of WEC.”

“I am very happy to join the champion Rebellion team,” added three-time Le Mans winner Lotterer.

“The LMP1 project is very exciting and to be able to go on with the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the FIA WEC challenge is something I did not want to miss.

“I am motivated and looking forward to have a great time with great people there.”