World watching Porsche's arrival into Formula E in Saudi Arabia, says Mark Webber

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Speaking exclusively to Arab News, Porsche ambassador Mark Webber said the German team’s entrance into Formula E at the season-opener in the Kingdom was a huge opportunity. (Photo: Faisal Albisher)
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Ahead of the Diriyah ePrix, Webber drove Porsche’s first all-electric road vehicle -- the Taycan -- from Dubai to Riyadh with Saudi driver Aseel Al-Hamad. The model goes on sale in the Middle East in 2020. (Porsche)
Updated 24 November 2019

World watching Porsche's arrival into Formula E in Saudi Arabia, says Mark Webber

  • Webber dove the new all-electric Porsche Taycan from Dubai to Riyadh
  • Says arrival of Taycan and Porsche into Formula E in Saudi Arabia is 'huge opportunity'

RIYADH: Former Formula One driver Mark Webber, said he was excited, confident and optimistic about the ABB Formula E Championship race in Diriyah this weekend.

Speaking to Arab News, the Porsche ambassador also said the German team’s entrance into Formula E at the season-opener in the Kingdom was a huge opportunity. 

“Everyone is watching Porsche's arrival into Formula E this weekend in Saudi Arabia. It is a huge opportunity for us to show what we intend to do going forward and where we're optimistc, but we're very respectful of the opposition,” he said.

“The driver level is extremely high, let’s see if we can get a podium, but I think it might be a little step too far this weekend,” he added.

Webber, who is also an International Automobile Federation (FIA) World Endurance Champion, said that it was an exciting time for Porsche to enter a new championship and that he was impressed with the maturity of the Formula E championship. 

“It's established and it's going all around the world racing and taking races to the people. So, it's really under their nose to watch what Formula E has to offer.” 

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RELATED: Motorsport must encourage more women to compete, says Saudi female driver Aseel Al-Hamad

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However, Webber said Porsche were under no illusions about how tough Formula E was going to be and that it would be a tough championship for them to compete in.

“We know we've got some top rivals. Porsche absolutely loves to come in with their eyes open, respectful of the opposition.

“But, ultimately, we want to have success as soon as possible. That's why we go motor racing. We have a great team of people in place to get the job done. we're confident that we can do a good job by itself. Of Course, it might take a bit of time and a bit of patience, but we're excited to be here” he added. 

Webber spoke to Arab News after driving the new Porsche Taycan, the firm’s newest all-electric model, with Saudi driver Aseel Al-Hamad from Dubai to Riyadh ahead of the city's Diriyah E-Prix this weekend. 

And the experience of the car cemented his views about the electric motoring evolution, saying that motorsport has been a key facet to driving technology.

“That's something which the automotive companies have rested on for a long period of time, particularly at Porsche. They're very consistent with racing on track and then taking their best products and their best materials into the street section and have the opportunity for the customers to use that type of product. So, it's an exciting time.”




Ahead of the Diriyah ePrix, Webber drove Porsche’s first all-electric road vehicle -- the Taycan -- from Dubai to Riyadh with Saudi driver Aseel Al-Hamad. The model goes on sale in the Middle East in 2020. (Porsche)

Driving fully electric sports car like the Taycan is a transition for him. 

“We went from combustion engines into hybrid, which we were very successful with at the Le Mans 24-hour race, with a record number of victories Porsche have won there, it's something we're very proud of.

“Then the obvious question was when are we going to go fully electric? And that answer arrived with the arrival of the new Taycan,” he said.

The Taycan is among the most powerful production models that the sports car manufacturer currently has in its product range, and Webber is a fan.

“It's fully electric, and yes, it's a Porsche sports car. Obviously, the days of the combustion engine in terms of racing are coming under pressure because of this new technology and everyone's very excited about that.”

The Porsche Taycan is manufactured in Zuffenhausen, Stuttgart, the heart and soul of the Porsche brand and will be available in the Middle East in 2020. 

Webber said that his arrival into Riyadh was his first time driving in Saudi Arabia and in a Taycan, and explained how groundbreaking it was to be using such technology. 

“When technology comes along and these manufacturers and their clever engineers want to find a new way to get people around in a sustainable way and in their eco-friendly way, then it's a great opportunity for me to drive the Porsche here and bring the Taycan to town.

“The synergy between racing with the Formula E this weekend and the Taycan arriving, trhe timing is perfect. It's a nice marriage this weekend for the on track and off track.”

Webber explained his role in the Porsche Soul Journey with Al-Hamad, a showcase of Porsche’s first all-electric sports car and the brand’s inaugural season in the Formula-E series.

“We've been going through the regions through different, very significant locations, and I've been getting a bit of an education process along the way because it's her region, which has been great,”

He said that he too has been trying to educate her on the technology of the car. 

“I know the car pretty well and I know it's been exciting times also in the area for women to drive cars (in the Kingdom).”

Speaking ahead of the Diriyah E-Prix, when asked whether he might venture back into competitive racing in Formula E, the Australian was philosophical. 

“I am very old now, it’s a young man's game, and I’m very happy with my Formula One career and I'm watching Formula E with interest.”


Tiger Woods-led US golfers deny Els’ dream to win Presidents Cup

Updated 15 December 2019

Tiger Woods-led US golfers deny Els’ dream to win Presidents Cup

  • Crushing loss for Ernie Els’ young Internationals who led for the first three days
  • Tiger Woods becomes the most successful Presidents Cup golfer in history

MELBOURNE: Tiger Woods’ United States produced a stunning turnaround to deny the Internationals a first Presidents Cup in 21 years Sunday, dominating the singles on a tense final day that went to the wire at Royal Melbourne.
Veteran Matt Kuchar was the hero, with his winning putt on the 17th in the penultimate match enough to ensure victory, sparking wild celebrations from playing-captain Woods, who set the tone by getting the first point on the board.
It was a crushing loss for Ernie Els’ young Internationals who led for the first three days of the biennial match play event but failed to deliver the killer blow against a more experienced and accomplished US team.
They went into the 12 singles matches with a 10-8 lead but the tide began quickly turning with Patrick Reed and Dustin Johnson among those racing to big early leads with the scoreboard swathed in US red.
When Webb Simpson beat South Korea’s An Byeong-hun, the US went 15-12 in front and needed just half a point with the Internationals leading in two of three matches still in play.
Australian Cameron Smith grabbed one more point by beating Justin Thomas, ensuring a nailbiting finale with Kuchar’s heroics on 17 ensuring there was no way back Els’ team.
“I trusted all my 11 guys. I trusted them implicitly. I told them from the very get go. They went out there and got the points we needed. We fought,” said Woods.
“Even the points we lost, we were making them earn every one of them, and this Cup wasn’t going to be given to us. We had to go earn it, and we did.”
It was a remarkable comeback. No side before had rallied to win on the last day after trailing for three days, further cementing the reputation of Woods, who went undefeated in his three matches.
US President Donald Trump, an avid golf fan, immediately paid tribute on social media.
“Congratulations to Tiger and the entire US Team on a great comeback and tremendous WIN. True Champions!” he tweeted.
The playing-captain, in his ninth Presidents Cup, set the tone from the front, going out first in the singles and winning 3 and 2 against battling Mexican Abraham Ancer.
In doing so he passed Phil Mickelson to become the most successful Presidents Cup golfer in history with a 27-win, 15-loss and 1-tied record to his countryman’s 26-16-13.
It was the United States’ 11th victory in 13 editions of the event. One was drawn with the lone International win coming in 1998, also at Royal Melbourne.
Woods nailed a birdie on the second after a stunning approach shot to take an early lead and although Ancer fought back, Woods’ putter was running hot and he was two up through 10.
The 15-time major winner was striding around Royal Melbourne on a mission and nailed a monster putt on the 16th for the 3 and 2 win.
At one stage the Americans were ahead in nine matches, and world number five Johnson ensured a second point, crushing Li Haotong 4 and 3.
It ended a difficult first Presidents Cup for a Chinese player who was overlooked for the opening two days and never looked at ease.
Patrick Reed’s caddie was banned after shoving a fan on Saturday as tensions boiled over after the controversial American’s penalty for improving his lie in the Bahamas last week.
The former Masters champion turned to his swing coach to carry his bag and it worked wonders as raced six up through seven against Taiwan’s CT Pan in a scintillating display in front of taunting fans.
Pan woke up and won three in a row but it was in vain with the American winning 4 and 2.
The US were on a roll with Tony Finau earning a valuable half point against Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, who looked to be on track for a win after going four clear through 10.
South Korea’s Im Sung-jae was a bright spot. Despite being just 21, the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year again showed his huge potential by comfortably beating US Open champion Gary Woodland.