Australian reigning World Endurance Champion and firm fan favourite, Mark Webber, has announced his intention to retire from competitive motorsport at the end of the current WEC season, bringing to an end a career spanning 22 years and multiple race wins across a number of professional disciplines. Highlights for Webber include no less that nine Grand Prix victories, 42 race podiums, thirteen Pole Positions and 19 fastest laps in a Formula One career spanning eleven seasons from his 2002 debut for perennial backmarkers Minardi, to his final season alongside World Champion Sebastian Vettel at the all-conquering Red Bull Racing team. “Of course hanging up my professional racing helmet is a very big decision but I’ve been extremely fortunate to receive great counsel from two of the legends of our sport, Sir Jackie Stewart and Niki Lauda, about the timings of such a decision,” said Webber, speaking in his offical annoucement release. “The timing is right for me – you certainly view things a bit differently when you get a bit older and your priorities in life change. As with my F1 career, it’s nice to making the decision on my own terms. Webber added, “I’ve really, really enjoyed my time in the cockpit with Porsche and could never have envisaged having such a dynamic relationship with my two team-mates in the #1 919, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley. It’s been a sensational three years and off the back of three consecutive wins, I’m hoping we can continue our good form and finish this year strongly. “It’s an absolute honour for me to remain with Porsche and whether it’s at the track or away from it, I’m looking forward to putting my 26 years’ experience as a competitor to good use in my new role within the company. “In addition to Porsche, I’m incredibly fortunate to be walking into some new and exciting opportunities with Red Bull (who I will have been with for 10 years next year), Channel 4 in the UK, and Network Ten and Michelin in Australia. As for Aussie Grit himself, I’m working on a couple of new ventures too, so watch this space!” “Mark Webber stands for everything what Porsche implies: sportsmanship, power of endurance, straightforwardness and focused work for success. He is full of beans and always a thoughtful listener. I want to thank Mark for his great performance in the World Endurance Championship and am pleased he will remain tightly connected to Porsche in the future”, says Oliver Blume, Chairman of the Executive Board of Dr. Ing h.c. F. Porsche AG. Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1 added “Already in the important period of building up the programme, Mark has strengthened us with all his experience and he seamlessly integrated himself into the team. Behind the wheel he is a fair fighter, never shy of even the toughest wheel-to-wheel battle. At the same time, he thinks strategically and is team orientated. This mixture makes him invaluable as an endurance racer. Winning the 2015 drivers’ world championship together with Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley almost seemed to be a logical consequence. Also thanks to his performance, we hope to win the world championship titles for manufacturers and drivers again in 2016.” Misfortune and a talent for finding himself in the right place at the wrong time (see his stint at Williams as an example), Webber never quite went on to achieve what his obvious talent promised during his career in Formula One. With a sting of disappointing results behind him, Webber only really found himself in a race winning car from the 2009 season onwards. In homage to the typical Mark Webber luck, 2009 was hampered by a broken leg in a road accident during his charity event in Tasmania during the off-season, putting Webber on the back foot already before even a racing lap was run in anger. Mark went on to make the most of a competitive car that season on his way to securing a string of solid results and fourth position overall in the championship standings. Sadly for him the new found form of Red Bull would coincide we a dominant driving display by German superstar, and Red Bull "teammate", Sebastian Vettel. Relationships between the drivers and team soured over the following years, eventually contributing to Webbers decision to retire from Grand Prix racing and take up a new challenge in sportcars for the 2014 season. With only a trio of third place finishes in the Formula One standings to his name, Webber entered the 2014 World Endurance Championship a factory Porsche LMP1 driver, with a clear goal to achieve success in the world’s most famous race, the Le Mans 24 hour, and fight for that elusive World Championship trophy to add to an enviable collection amassed since starting his racing career in the 1994 Australian Formula Ford series. Webber and Porsche instantly gelled as the team continued its raise up the rankings following a long sabbatical away from top level endurance racing. With Webber finding himself as a team leader despite his relative lack of experience within the Porsche 919 Hybrid, the driver went on to secure seven outright WEC victories and the 2015 FIA World Endurance World Championship, as well as a second position outright during the 2015 running of the Le Mans 24 hour event. With retirement looming at the close of the current season, Webber finds himself riding a crest of a wave following three straight victories in this seasons championship, placing the team in fourth position overall with three races still remaining. With his professional driving career drawing to a close, Webber will remain active in the sport with his new role as 'Porsche special representative'. The new role will require Webber to "represent Porsche at global events and as a consultant will contribute by lending his experience to the motorsport programme" and "talent research as well as driver training for up and coming professionals and the huge number of worldwide Porsche amateur racers". “I have arrived where I belong”, says Webber. “Porsche is the brand I always loved most and the one that suits me the best. The 911 is iconic – it has got elegance, performance and understatement, and is never intrusive. It is just the right car for every scenario... I will miss the sheer speed, downforce and competition, but I want to leave on a high and I’m very much looking forward to my new tasks.” It's a bit of an end of an era saying goodbye to Mark Webber from professional motorsport. Always quick with his ready smile, straight talking and sensible (something rarely seen in modern motorsports), alongside the tough Aussie Grit attitude out on track, the guy will surely be missed in the WEC paddock. Thankfully the loveable Australian managed to secure a much coveted World Championship trophy he so richly deserves before retiring, and UK TV viewers can expect to see more of him next season as he continues his role as part time Formula One pundit for Channel 4. So best of luck from all at RaceDepartment Mark, G'day for now mate!