Mark Webber has hailed his maiden world title as a very special moment after clinching the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship Drivers' title with Porsche team-mates Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard.
The former F1 star has claimed his first world championship in any discipline and was thrilled to secure it with the German manufacturer.
Heading into the WEC season finale in Bahrain with a 12-point lead over Audi's Andre Lotterer, Marcel Fassler and Benoit Treluyer, Webber and company were made to sweat after suffering throttle problems half an hour into the race – dropping them to dead last.
A spirited fightback through the field saw the #17 Porsche rise to fifth place as the race unfolded but in the final hour developed a new problem with its Hybrid energy system and at times the car was running down on power by some 300hp.
With the sister #18 Porsche leading proceedings to keep the title-challenging Audi in second, Webber's squad knew seventh place or better would be enough to take the title and the Australian duly nursed the Porsche 919 Hybrid home in fifth place.
“It's the first World Championship for me – this feels beautiful,” Webber beamed. “That's not an easy thing to achieve, so to have won this title is very special. But to win it wearing a Porsche suit is even more special to me. The last time Porsche won this Championship was 29 years ago with Derek Bell.”
Hartley echoed Webber's sentiments after also taking his maiden world title and says the WEC Drivers' title, along with Porsche claiming the LMP1 manufacturers' and teams' championships, is the completion of a life ambition.
“I am very, very proud. My earliest memories are watching my father at the racetrack. I was six years old when I started racing go-karts and always dreamt of being a World Champion,” Hartley said. “I am extremely proud of sharing this moment with Mark, Timo and the entire Porsche Team.
“A big thanks to the guys at the computers behind the pits, the mechanics fixing the car in the box, the crew of car number 18, who did an incredible race to take the victory. And, of course, to Mark and Timo. We were all managing issues on the track. Every single person in the Porsche Team contributed to this. I will never forget this day, I am very proud.”
German driver Bernhard, a former Le Mans 24 Hours winner with Audi before switching to Porsche in 2013, says he is forever in debt to Porsche for giving him the opportunity to commence his burgeoning racing career when he was granted an entry to the Porsche Supercup as a UPS Porsche junior driver in 2000.
“Winning the FIA World Endurance Drivers' Championship today is an exceptional moment for me and truly the icing on the cake,” Bernhard said. “It was great seeing the team winning in Le Mans and clinching the one-two with our second place. The Manufacturers' Championship for Porsche was another highlight for me. And now Brendon, Mark and myself even won the drivers' title.
“I owe Porsche so much. It was Porsche who gave me the chance to be a professional racing driver. Together we have celebrated so many successes in different categories of motor racing. To secure the drivers' title is incredible. I have Porsche in my heart, this is the brand I am living for. Today a dream has come true.”