Porsche scored its first WEC (World Endurance Championship) victory since 1998 on Sunday at the Interlagos race track in Sao Paulo, Brazil while Toyota clinched its first WEC season championship. The race was marred when Porsche driver Mark Webber crashed heavily just 30 minutes from the end of the race. Clean up crews were unable to clear the wreckage in time and so the race ended behind the safety car.
Audi has been the acknowledged champion of endurance racing for several years, having spearheaded the introduction of hybrid powertrains into the sport and later the use of diesel powered engines. Now all the racers in the top category – LMP1 – are hybrid powered. With the rise in popularity of hybrid powered road cars, more manufacturers such as Toyota and Porsche have decide to go endurance racing. Next year, Nissan is scheduled to join the fray.
Endurance races are usually 6 hours long, During the season, a few 12 hour races are held, and once a year in June, a 24 hour race is held in Le Mans, France. The race in Brazil marked the end of Audi’s reign. It will not compete in the WEC series next year. Audi’s decision to leave the sport has sparked speculation that it may embark on a Formula One program within a year or two.
Following his horrific crash that occurred after he lost control of his race car, Mark Webber issued this statement from his hospital bed on Monday: “I’m quite sore this morning, am pretty bruised and have got a stinking headache. I’ve got no recollection of the accident or how it happened. The team is looking into the details to find out more. Thanks to the medical team at the track and here at the hospital, who did a great job and are looking after me very well.” His car was destroyed in the accident.
The next endurance racing season begins April 12, 2015 with a 6 hour contest at Silverstone in England.