Mark Webber says Porsche heads into its defence of its World Endurance Championship crowns full of confidence but is expecting a fightback from its LMP1 rivals this weekend at Silverstone.
The Australian claimed the WEC drivers' title alongside Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard last year as Porsche wrapped up the manufacturers' championship after taking six wins in eight events, including at Le Mans 24 Hours.
Webber, Bernhard and Hartley's championship charge was built upon four consecutive wins in the middle chunk of the year having finished runner-up to the third Porsche entry at Le Mans, but missed out on victory at Silverstone 12 months ago due to a mechanical fault an hour into the race despite taking pole position and leading the race until its untimely stop.
Having tested Porsche's new high downforce aero package at the Prologue the team is confident it can take the fight to its LMP1 rivals at Silverstone but Webber says they must be wary of the threat Audi and Toyota pose after their recent raft of upgrades.
“We're super respectful of the opposition,” Webber said. “Silverstone is a track on which you really can let fast cars like our prototypes go. I'm expecting a good crowd again for the season's opening round, because the British fans like sports car racing a lot.”
“We have had good tyre testing, good endurance running and have improved constantly,” Bernhard added. “In 2014 and 2015, our car missed out on a tiny bit of luck there, which hopefully will change now. Mark has won in every race category in Silverstone, so now it's time he also gets a win there at the wheel of a prototype. Also Brendon has a great Silverstone tally.”
Porsche heads into 2016 with an unchanged driver line-up with Bernhard, Webber and Hartley teaming up in the #1 919 Hybrid, while Romain Dumas, Neel Jani and Marc Lieb return in the #2 machine.