Porsche Win Despite Webber Horror Smash

Porsche Motorsport had a race of huge highs and desparate lows today as they took their first modern-era sportscar win despite a horrific accident involving Mark Webber’s #20 prototype.

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The #14 919 Hybrid took the chequered flag at the FIAWEC 6 Hours of Sao Paulo, the first Porsche to do so for 15 years. Neel Jani, Marc Lieb and Romain Dumas battled constant challenges from both Audi and Toyota but came out on top after a thrilling and often surprising race.

But it was bittersweet for the Weissach boys as, with just minutes left on the clock, Mark Webber smashed his car into the wall while accelerating up the hill and onto the pit straight, taking the #90 AF Corse Ferrari with it.

There were tense moments as the world waited for news of Webber and GT driver Matteo Cressoni, but after a few long minutes it was confirmed that both were OK. Cressoni stepped out of his car under his own steam while Webber was extracted and sent to the medical centre as a precaution.

The race ended under the ensuing safety car, bringing to an end one of the great sportscar seasons. It also brought the end of one the great sportscar careers as Mr. Le Mans Tom Kristensen hung up his helmet following his #1 Audi’s third placed finish.

His R18 e-tron Quattro was beaten to the second step by world champions Ant Davidson and Sebastien Buemi, whose Toyota TS040 has been all but unbeatable this year. The duo were chasing for the win when the Safety Car came out.

Fourth and fifth in LMP1 went to the #8 Toyota and #2 Audi, evidence of just how close all three manufacturers were around the Interlagos circuit. The LMP1-L teams on the other hands were nowhere to be seen, with Lotus and both Rebellions repeatedly hamstrung by mechanical issues.

The title dogfight that had been promised by the LMP2 field was dealt a blow early on in the race, as Olivier Pla shunted his championship leading Ligier head first into the protec barriers. This meant that the #27 SMP Racing team had just to finish the race, a feat they managed after sitting in their garage for some time to save the car.

The class was won overall by KCMG, whose late season form will give them high hopes of mounting a strong title challenge in 2015. The only other P2 entry, the #37 SMP Oreca, ended the race 24th overall.

The long run of bad luck for Aston Martin’s GTE Pro effort ended in Brazil as Darren Turner and Stefan Muecke took their first win of the year. Porsche’s GT factory effort had a slim chance of winning the manufacturers title in Sao Paulo but were scuppered by strong performances from both the #71 and #51 AF Corses which ended the race third and fourth.

The #99 Aston of Rees, O’Young and Macdowell had challenged for the win throughout most of the race but were undone by contact with both the #91 Porsche and #95 Am teammates. They were followed over the line by the #92 Porsche.

GTE Am was business as usual with Aston Martin Racing taking yet another 1-2 finish in class. Thanks to unrelenting pace from the youth of Nicki Thiim and the old head of Pedro Lamy the Gulf-liveried cars streaked ahead and out of the clutches of their competition.

The #98 came home first ahead of the #95 ‘Dane Train’ which, as gentleman driver David Heinemeier-Hansson put it, had been beset by a season’s worth of problems in six hours.

The #81 AF Corse ended best of the rest ahead of the Proton and Prospeed Porsches. The #61 AF Corse was last of the Ams due to a mid-race problem and a drive through for pit lane speeding courtesy of one Emerson Fittipaldi.

The Brazilian sunset brought to an end another year of non stop action and massive growth for the World Endurance Championship. With yet another manufacturer joining the fray in 2015 and the promise of a thoroughly packed grid there’s a lot to look forward to.

Porsche now go into 2015 with a first-season win under their belts, while Toyota will contest while wearing the crown of their first ever sportscar world championship. Audi will be back and hoping to rediscover their dominant spark, while new boys Nissan have promised great things.

We have five months to get our breath back before we do it all again, starting at Silverstone in April of next year. The fourth edition of the WEC will almost certainly continue to be one of the best racing spectacles in the world; you won’t want to miss it.