Defending champions Webber and co thwarted by Silverstone crash

The 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship roared into life at Silverstone on Sunday

The 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship roared into life at Silverstone on Sunday

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The 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) roared into life at Silverstone on Sunday with the 6-Hours of Silverstone presenting drivers and teams with the opportunity of winning the famous Royal Automobile Club Tourist Trophy.

Vale racer, Mark Webber, was one of those drivers in action as he started the defence of his World Endurance Championship title, a crown he won in 2015 with fellow Porsche team-mates Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard.

The trio lined-up at Silverstone in their all-new Porsche 919-Hybrid, the car carrying the number 1 to show their champion status.

A full day of running on Friday saw Webber and his team show good pace around the Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit, before heavy rain and snow cancelled out Saturday’s final free practice session.

The weather cleared for the official qualifying, and Webber’s car performed well to clock the third fastest time.

A weekend of crowd of over 55,000 descended on Silverstone to watch the Le Mans racers in action, and Sunday’s race provided plenty of action - although some of it not quite what Webber and the crew of the Porsche number 1 wanted.

After a strong start to the race, the number 1 car was comfortably in the lead with Brendon Hartley when it made contact with a slower Porsche GT in the middle of the high-speed Farm corner.

The contact between the two cars sent Hartley hurtling across the safety gravel trap and into the trackside safety barriers and instant retirement.

Hartley said: “We ended up on the same piece of road at the same time. There was nothing I could really do, I attempted to go around the outside of the GT car and we touched. This is not the start to the season that we wanted.”

Webber commented: “We were in the lead and the car was showing good pace. To end like this is never easy and as we all saw it was a big shunt.

“Brendon is fine, the car is badly damaged and we now pick up the pieces and prepare for the next race in Belgium at Spa-Francorchamps.”

With the Porsche number 1 out of the way, the number 7 Audi R18 took over at the head of the pack to take victory, only for post race eligibility checks to find that the German car’s front skid block was too worn, and as a result officials removed Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler from the results.

Audi has decided to protest the decision, and the hearing will be heard by FIA stewards at a hearing in Paris.

The number 2 Porsche, driven by Marc Lieb, Neel Jani and Romain Dumas, was promoted to race winners.

Webber added: “There was a great buzz at Silverstone despite the cold weather. A good crowd came to watch us and all the WEC guys and despite our crash we showed we can challenge for wins.

“We have a long year ahead and we will fight to win at every race.”