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.

Montoya: ‘Hopefully I get a chance to do Indy again’ (VIDEO)

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Juan Pablo Montoya is on site at this weekend’s United States Grand Prix, his latest trip in a summer and fall filled with a lot of international travel and a number of different race cars he’s been in.

Montoya is committed to a full season in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with Acura Team Penske in 2018, as he’ll share one of the team’s Acura ARX-05s with Dane Cameron.

However, the question of whether he’ll be able to race in the 102nd Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil remains.

Team Penske has said it plans to only run four cars next month of May, with Helio Castroneves as the fourth driver alongside the three full-time cars driven by Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud and Will Power.

While Montoya has said elsewhere that he’s shopping offers and has talked with other teams, it’d be highly surprising to see the two-time Indianapolis 500 champion who developed the Chevrolet engine for IndyCar’s 2018 Dallara universal body kit in a Honda-powered IndyCar, although he is running Honda’s brand (Acura) in sports cars.

Montoya elaborated on his Indy 500 prospects in an interview with NBCSN pit reporter and insider Will Buxton at the Circuit of The Americas.

“Not full-time no,” Montoya told NBCSN of his IndyCar 2018 prospects. “Hopefully I get a chance to go to Indy, hopefully with Penske, (and) if not someone else. We’ll see.”

Photo: IndyCar

Montoya has extolled the early testing both on the 2018 IndyCar and on the Acura ARX-05.

The first Acura chassis has run at Road Atlanta and Sebring International Raceway thus far, and will be put through its paces at other venues over the next few months.

“It’s been good. We did a lot of work with INDYCAR on that car. Fans are gonna like it,” Montoya said of the 2018 kit.

“Going to IMSA with the Acura program, we’ve done a lot of testing. It’s a beauty to drive. It drives better than what it looks! I haven’t had that much fun driving a race car in a long time.”

Acura ARX-05 Daytona Prototype international (DPi) race car to be campaigned by Team Penske in 2018