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.” 


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


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.”

Almulla and Salhab give thumbs-up for inaugural Saudi Ladies Championship

Saudi Arabia will hold its first-ever women’s professional golf tournament in March when the Saudi Ladies Championship tees off at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club. (Supplied)
Updated 25 January 2020

Almulla and Salhab give thumbs-up for inaugural Saudi Ladies Championship

  • Record prize money of $19.87 million for the LET 2020 season offered

JEDDAH: Saudi golfers Othman Almulla and Faisal Salhab have said they cannot wait for the Saudi Ladies Championship to happen in the Kingdom, after a UK newspaper confirmed the tournament was one of three new events added to the Ladies European Tour (LET) schedule.

The Daily Telegraph said the Ladies European Tour would offer record prize money of £15.2 million ($19.87 million) for the 2020 season, an increase of almost £4 million on last year. The cash injection comes in part due to having three new events, all offering prize money of at least $1 million, including the inaugural Saudi Ladies Championship to be held in March.
The exclusive report said there would be 24 events on the LET this year, an increase of four from last year. In addition to the Saudi tournament and the Scandinavian Mixed event, the third event to have a prize pot of over $1 million will be a new event to be held in the UK in August, ahead of the Ladies Scottish Open and the Women’s Open.
Almulla and Faisal will both tee off alongside the biggest names in golf in the Saudi International, which starts next Thursday at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club at the King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC).
Almulla, who turned professional during the inaugural staging of the Saudi International last year, is playing on a pro invite while the 23-year-old Riyadh-based Faisal qualified following his victory in the 5th Saudi Open at the Riyadh Golf Course in November last year.  
Saud Alsharif, from the Eastern Province like Almulla, completes the Saudi trio in action in the Jan. 30 to Feb. 2 European Tour event. Alsharif earned his second straight stint in the tournament by virtue of his top ranking.
Almulla, a decorated amateur golfer and the youngest to qualify for the Dubai Desert Classic before another Saudi, Khaled Attieh, broke his record, told Arab News: “I think it’s a wonderful time for the sport of golf in Saudi Arabia, with the big developments the Saudi Golf Federation and Golf Saudi have put in place.”
“We already see the rewards of their ambitious plans with the first-ever female participation in an international event at the Pan Arab and GCC Championships in Egypt and Oman this year.
“And now with the first-ever ladies professional golf championship happening in Saudi Arabia, this will further motivate and inspire the next generation of golfers to continue improving,” Almulla added.
Salhab, who just ended a training camp with Alsharif and coach Jamie McConnell, director of instruction at the Claude Harmon Golf Academy in Dubai, said: “It’s great to have a Ladies European Tour event in Saudi Arabia. It emphasizes how the game is growing.
“It’s unreal to have such big events for men and women hosted in the Kingdom and hopefully inspire the next generation of golfers to pick up the sport.
“By having an event like this one take place in our backyard will hopefully expose many women to learn about the beautiful game,” Salhab added.
The Saudi Ladies Championship, professional golf’s newest high-profile tournament being hosted by the country, will take place March 19 to 22 at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club under the aegis of the LET and the Saudi Golf Federation.
Golf Saudi announced last month that it was working with several LET stars to promote golf to local audiences, and to enhance the visibility of its Saudi golf development program and the country’s golf tourism. The UK’s Carly Booth, Amy Boulden and Rachel Drummond, and Swedish pair Camilla Lennarth and Isabella Deilert, will each wear the Golf Saudi logo as ambassadors of the program.