Mark Webber has ruled out making a surprise start at the Bathurst 1000 once and for all, while also revealing that Roland Dane tried to woo him into a Supercars test when he was in Formula 1.
In a detailed chat with Aussie motorsport broadcaster Greg Rust on his Rusty’s Garage podcast, Webber explained that a Bathurst 1000 start during his active career was always impossible due to scheduling clashes.
And while he’s now got the time to make a Great Race start, Webber says he’s not interested in taking on the Supercars specialists at their own game – particularly given the unique driving style required get the best out of the V8-powered Touring Cars.
“I raced [at Bathurst] in Formula Ford, so I do know the track,” Webber told Rust.
“I couldn’t do it until, I suppose, now is the only time. Because when I was doing [Formula 1] Suzuka always [clashed]. I mean, when I was in F1 forget it – I couldn’t do Bathurst when I was in F1.
“And then I went to Sportcars and it always was around Fuji time so there was always [another] clash”.
“[Triple Eight boss] Roland Dane always asked me. In Abu Dhabi there was a few years where he was like ‘come on, you know my phone number. Give me a ring and we can sort a test out’. And I just thought that the guys are so plugged into those type of cars.
“Maybe I will drive one one day, but I think the frustration level in terms of how heavy the cars are, how they behave… there is a lot of travel in them. I’d drive one reasonably okay, but in terms of being super, super quick, it would be probably pretty challenging.
“I think the race is great, Bathurst is a sensational race.
“The guys are always on the limit. You see the cars are under-tyred, they’re moving around. And the commitment over the top looks sensational! You can see the guys that make a difference. It’s good to watch. But also, there’s enough young guys doing well for a washed up old dog.
“I’ve done well overseas… But in a way it’s a bit wanky to say ‘well I’ll have a go at this on the way out sort of thing. I don’t really need to do it.”
Webber also played down chances of a Bathurst 12 Hour start, something that’s been rumoured over the past three or four years given his ongoing involvement with Porsche.
“Even Porsche said ‘why don’t you drive the GT car [at the Bathurst 12 Hour]’ – for exactly the same reason. When you come from the muscle memory and the frame rate of the cars I’ve been used to for like 20 years, [they] have been 20 or 25 seconds a lap faster than that.
“That’s a shift for you to get your head around.”
Should Webber have a change of heart and decide to race at either of the big Bathurst events, he’d need to re-apply for a racing licence, having not bothered to renew with the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport this year.
“I haven’t got a licence this year,” he said. “I always had to go through CAMS to get it, because if I ever did well and scored a podium when I was in sportscar or F1 then they’d play the Australian national anthem.
“But yeah, I haven’t got my racing licence.”