Webber elated with “awesome” first WEC victory

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NÜRBURGRING – Mark Webber made no secret of his elation after claiming his first FIA World Endurance Championship victory in the 6 Hours of Nürburgring on Sunday.

Webber walked away from Formula 1 at the end of 2013 to join Porsche’s LMP1 programme, but failed to grace the top step of the podium in his first 11 races with the team.

On Sunday at the Nürburgring, the Australian driver played an instrumental role in the no. 17 crew’s victory, racing alongside Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard as they lapped the field and claimed a comfortable victory.

Speaking to MotorSportsTalk after the race, Webber was delighted to have broken through with his first win in the WEC after an impressive display.

“Yeah awesome mate,” Webber said when asked how he felt. “It went well. I think that the whole race was – after Timo’s early issue at the start, after that it was sensational.

“I’m of course personally very, very happy that it ran smooth and the car got home with no issues and I got on the middle step with Timo and Brendan.”

Webber claimed his first F1 victory at the Nürburgring back in 2009, so it was perhaps fitting that his maiden WEC success came at the same track.

“I’ve had some good battles here, obviously the win in ’09 and 2011 with Fernando and Lewis was a really big race that one as well,” Webber said. “It’s been a good one for me. A lot of good results here to stand on the middle step a few times.

“In their own backyard, a lot of history with Porsche, obviously [has] a lot of great victories in the past, 1000km races.

“What a big crowd today, it was an awesome event. I don’t think anyone could believe how successful the event went.”

When asked to compare his first wins in both F1 and the WEC, Webber said that although his maiden grand prix victory meant more, Sunday’s win felt more like a team effort.

“I think in F1, my first win was massive,” Webber said.

“Obviously this is more of a team feeling of course, there’s a lot of satisfaction because of the contribution that you feel you’ve helped with the team obviously, with all of us we do that.

“But Formula 1 obviously, personally… it’s hard to compare to your first Formula 1 victory, that was certainly a very big day.”

Provisional Indy Lights champion Oliver Askew ready for IndyCar ride

Road to Indy
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Provisional Indy Lights champion Oliver Askew has done nothing but dominate the 2019 season, winning seven of the 16 races run so far and finishing on the podium in all but two of those events.

Now all the 22-year-old Floridian needs to do to formally clinch the 2019 title is simply start the final two races of the season, both of which will be held this weekend at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

For Askew, his maiden Indy Lights season will likely be one he’ll never forget. 

“It’s been a dream come true,” Askew told NBC Sports. “Being with the championship-winning team from last year, we had a really good shot at winning it again for Andretti Autosport. It’s very rare that we show up to a track and struggle to find speed. 

“That’s a fantastic feeling, especially as a driver. That gave me a lot of confidence and hopes of holding the million dollar check at the end of the year. That was the goal going into it.”

This weekend, Askew will accomplish said goal. The championship will not only bring him a sense of pride, but also the opportunity of a lifetime. 

As an award for being crowned the Indy Lights champion, Askew will be awarded a scholarship that guarantees him entry into a minimum of three NTT IndyCar Series events next year – including the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500. 

Time will only tell which team Askew will race for in IndyCar next season, and whether or not Askew’s rookie campaign will be a full-time or part-time affair, but Askew’s performance during the last few seasons in the Road to Indy system has certainly drawn attention of IndyCar’s top team owners.

In August, Askew had the chance to drive an Indy car for the first time in his career during a test session at Portland International Raceway, driving the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda usually piloted by Scott Dixon.

“It was an opportunity with Chip Ganassi Racing that I was very fortunate to have,” Askew said. “I think with my experience in the past couple of years with Cape Motorsports and this year with Andretti Autosport, going into that test was very helpful.

“Going into the test, it was more of trying to treat it as just another day at the racetrack, when it really wasn’t. It was a fantastic opportunity for me – a great experience – and I hope I can take that into my rookie season next year in IndyCar.” 

The final two races of the 2019 Indy Lights season will take place this weekend on Saturday, September 21 at 6 p.m. ET and Sunday, September 22 at 12:05 p.m. ET. Both races will air live on NBC Sports Gold.

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