Webber out of luck in WEC opener at Silverstone

Mark Webber leads the pack at the start of the 6-Hours of Silverstone

Mark Webber leads the pack at the start of the 6-Hours of Silverstone

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There was disappointment for Mark Webber at Silverstone on Sunday when the local Australian was forced out of the season-opening race in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).

The Aston Clinton resident appeared to be heading for victory when leading the 6-Hours of Silverstone, only for his Porsche 919-Hybrid to develop gearbox problems.

Webber turns the number 17 Porsche into Luffield during the early laps of Sunday's FIA WEC race at Silverstone

Webber turns the number 17 Porsche into Luffield during the early laps of Sunday's FIA WEC race at Silverstone

Webber and his team-mates Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard qualified their number 17 car on pole position for the race around the Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit, and it was Webber who took the start for the team.

Jumping into the lead as the start lights flashed off, Webber controlled the opening hour of the race and looked in total command before he was forced to pit with a rear drivetrain problem.

His car had developed gearbox problems, and was wheeled back into its pit box by the Porsche mechanics for work to commence. The car did not return to the track.

The 38-year-old said afterwards: “It was really going smoothly, and I had a nice run at the front of the field. Then we had a drivetrain issue. I only felt it a lap before, but I couldn’t continue.

“It’s a real shame because we were in a great position. We had a really good build-up to the weekend. The guys worked hard, but we didn’t get the result.

“We were in better shape with the tyres than we thought we would be, and that was a nice surprise. Our hybrid technology is just sensational and puts us in a good position in both the short and long term.”

With Webber out of the race, the second Porsche 919-Hybrid of Neel Jani, Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb was left to fight for victory and after an incredibly tight battle, they lost out by just 4.5 seconds to the Audi Sport Team Joest of Marcel Fassler, Benoit Treluyer and Andre Lotterer. Toyota finished third with their number 1 TS040-Hybrid car, driven by Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima.

Webber added: “It was a good performance by the Porsche team here at Silverstone and we showed we are in a good position for the season, and that we have the pace to run against Audi and Toyota.

“We are at Spa next, and then it is Le Mans, where Nissan will also join the P1 category. The Le Mans test takes place at the end of May as well, so the next few weeks will be really full on for the whole team.”