Webber targeting Le Mans glory as retirement looms

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Mark Webber is already setting his sights on his first victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans as he enters his final two weeks as a Formula One driver.

The thirty-seven year old Australian made his F1 debut in 2002 with Minardi, but his best days have come with Red Bull since 2009 where he has won nine races and three constructors’ championships. However, Webber will retire at the end of the year in favor of joining Porsche’s LMP1 programme that will see him compete in the World Endurance Championship and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and he is already setting his sights on winning the prestigious race.

“It’s human nature to want more, obviously I want to win Le Mans, to put that with the Monaco – that would be nice,” Webber explained on Australian TV.

“Whether one is enough there, maybe I want to grab a few. But of course you’ve got to get the first one done, which won’t be easy. So that’s the first goal, to win Le Mans, win that outright down the road. And then we’ll go from there.”

Webber is still looking to add one more grand prix victory to his collection in the final two races of the season, but with teammate Sebastian Vettel currently in the form of his life, he appears to face an uphill struggle. Nevertheless, his career has been an impressive one, and he explained in Abu Dhabi that he considers himself to be as good as many world champions.

However, with the all-conquering Audis dominating the race at Le Mans for over a decade now, Webber and Porsche may struggle to win the event at their first attempt in 2014.

Porsche pulls GTLM cars from Mid-Ohio because of COVID-19 positives

Porsche Mid-Ohio COVID-19
David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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Porsche will skip Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race with its two GTLM cars at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course after three positive COVID-19 tests were confirmed during the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

That resulted in Porsche choosing to pull out of the Nurburgring 24 Hour endurance race in Germany, electing to avoid sending any team members as a precautionary measure.

Porsche Motorsport announced Tuesday that its COVID-19 decision also would apply at Mid-Ohio to its No. 911 and No. 12 teams.

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Three of Porsche’s four IMSA GTLM drivers — Laurens Vanthoor, Frederic Makowiecki and Nick Tandy — also were racing in Le Mans. The trio has remained isolated in Europe and won’t be allowed to travel.

“Based on yesterday’s decision that no employee or racing driver of our Le Mans team will participate in the Nürburgring 24 Hours, we have today decided that this ruling will also apply to the upcoming IWSC race in Mid-Ohio,” Fritz Enzinger, vice president for Porsche Motorsport, said in a release. “This means that Laurens, Nick and Fred will not be traveling to the USA.

“This is very regrettable, but we would like to emphasize that in this case as well the health of all those concerned is the prime focus of the decisions we have taken.”

The decision also affects Earl Bamber, who teamed with Vanthoor to win the GTLM championship last year in the No. 912.

Porsche said its GTLM Porsche 911 RSR-19 entries will return for the Oct. 10 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.

That will reduce the GTLM class to four cars — two Corvettes and two BMWs — this weekend at Mid-Ohio, in what could be somewhat of a 2021 preview. Porsche Motorsport announced earlier this year that it will leave IMSA after the 2020 season because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.