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.”

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”