Mark Webber has played down his hopes of scoring a Le Mans 24 Hours victory on his return to the endurance classic, despite Porsche's strong showing qualifying.

Making his first Le Mans 24 Hours appearance in 15 years, former Red Bull F1 driver Webber has been signed to spearhead Porsche's much anticipated return to premier sportscar competition, driving the new 919 Hybrid alongside Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley.

It's been a positive return to Le Mans for Porsche so far this week, the car proving quick over a single lap and taking the fight to Toyota for qualifying honours, raising hope it can pose a similar threat in the race.

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However, though Webber is full of praise for the effort made by Porsche to get the car up to speed coming to Le Mans, he remains cautious about the manufacturer's chances coming into the race, describing talk of a win as 'too optimistic'.

"To do 24 hours is going to be tough," he said. "We need to have a smooth day. Many, many times here the fastest car has not won the race. In my opinion Toyota are the favourites and Audi are in good shape, but we have done a very good job in the space of time we have had. The opposition have a respect for us, which is nice, because they know what it takes to make a car reliable and strong for this event.

"The lead time on this stuff is not a few weeks, it is months and months. For us to be sitting here saying we have a chance for the victory is too optimistic. Having said that, if we circulate strongly for a long period of time and learn as much as we can, we could still be in the ballpark by the end...

"You can't predict it. It's a tightrope, Le Mans is like a tightrope. Team work, pit stops, conditions, rain, inters, slicks, backmarkers... that's why it is such a fascinating race and such a hard race to win."

Webber's #20 Porsche will start fourth on the grid for the race, with the sister #14 Porsche driven by Romain Dumas, Neel Jani and Marc Lieb starting second.