Photo: “FIA GT Championship 7th May 2006 Silverstone Maserati MC12 IMG_3849″ by Tony Harrison
Article by John Dagys
Following a podium finish in his FIA World Endurance Championship debut, Mark Webber is flying high heading into this weekend’s Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.
The second round of the FIA WEC, often considered the dress rehearsal to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, will see Porsche’s 919 Hybrids again do battle with factory entries from Audi and Toyota, which swept the opening round just weeks ago.
“To be honest, I can’t wait to get there after Silverstone,” Webber wrote in a blog entry on his official website. “We were all so excited and keen to get the first race out of the way and pulling off a clean weekend with qualifying and the race, which went better than we expected.
“Going to Spa so soon after the first race is good for us to try and keep a bit of momentum.”
The ex-F1 star, a veteran of 215 Grand Prix starts, teamed with Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas for a third place finish at Silverstone, in what was a trouble-free run for the new gasoline-powered LMP1-H car.
While not getting the same amount of track time as he’s been accustomed to, the 37-year-old Australian has been upbeat on the switch to endurance racing.
“I learned a lot in my first WEC race,” Webber said. “It was [a] long time before I got into the car and there’s much I can do when the other drivers are out on track.
“It’s important for me not to be wasting too much energy on some of those areas where I know Timo and Brendon can do the job. It’s important to relax and make sure I am ready for when I am driving the car.
“Also I learnt a lot with the traffic and dealing with back markers, which was the first time I had to do that in anger. The amount of debris on the track was something else to get used to; there is a lot more debris in endurance racing than in F1.
“I also executed my first live pit stop and carried out a driver change with Brendon. Although these small things don’t sound much, they are quite important to get me up to speed.”
Following a rain-shortened Silverstone event, weather is likely to play a factor again this weekend at Spa, which may not necessarily suit the 919 Hybrids, which will continue to run in low-downforce Le Mans-style aero.
But that hasn’t stopped the team’s determination to continue the learning process in the lead up to Le Mans.
“In Silverstone the dialogue in the team between all the drivers, the engineers and Weissach was phenomenal and we worked well together searching for areas in which to improve which is a no brainer as we’ve only done one race,” he said.
“There is a bit of excitement in the camp that we achieved a podium at our first attempt but we have our feet on the ground. We haven’t had two cars finish yet and we’d like to do that and get the 14 and 20 cars home.”
Article by John Dagys