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Mark Webber looking forward to retirement after WEC finale

Mark Webber says he is looking forward to the end of his career as a racing driver after this weekend's Bahrain World Endurance Championship finale

The 40-year-old Australian announced his retirement from the cockpit last month, bringing an end to a career that included nine Formula 1 grand prix victories with Red Bull and the LMP1 world championship with Porsche during his three-year post-F1 stint with the German manufacturer.

"We would love to go out with a victory, but irrespective of the result, it would be nice for me to have a smooth day and look back on a very, very long career of which I'm very proud," said Webber.

"I will walk away from the car just one more time - take the helmet and balaclava off and the ear plugs out, doing all these things for one last time.

"That will be very different, but I'm looking forward to not having to do this in the future."

Webber added that he is prepared for the "big moment" of retirement to make for an emotional final weekend.

ANALYSIS: How Webber proved doubters wrong in the WEC

"Bahrain is obviously not a normal race for me, it will be pretty emotional," he said.

"To arrive there knowing it is the last time I will compete seriously will be a big moment. I'm looking forward to the weekend.

"I've got a lot of friends coming from all around the world, especially from Australia and Europe, to watch me drive for the last time."

The race also marks Audi's farewell to topline sportscar racing after 18 years, but Porsche's LMP1 vice president Fritz Enzinger said Porsche will "postpone" thoughts about that and Webber's retirement until after the race.

Audi motorsport boss Wolfgang Ullrich, who spearheaded the marque's successful sportscar project that included 13 wins in the Le Mans 24 Hours, is braced for an emotional farewell.

"What this programme means to Audi is hard to express in words," said Ullrich.

"To this day, the various rally models of the Audi quattro, with which everything began in 1981, have kept a special place in the hearts of the audience.

"I am sure the sportscars, which are esteemed by a worldwide fan community, are going to continue to define the historic image of our brand for a long time."

TOYOTA NOT FOCUSED ON SLIM TITLE HOPES

Away from the focus on Webber and Audi, the WEC drivers' title is still to be decided, but Toyota accepts its chances of an upset are unlikely.

With Stephane Sarrazin, Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi 17 points behind Webber's Porsche team-mates Neel Jani, Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb, the Toyota trio can win the title if it wins the race and the Porsche crew is sixth or lower.

Toyota can also snatch the crown with second place if the Porsche scores fewer than two points, with one on offer for pole position and points paid down to one for 10th place.

Toyota team president Toshio Sato conceded it will be "difficult" to land the drivers' crown, stressing that his target is to secure second in the manufacturers' championship.

"We are realistic and we know we need a bit of luck," he added.

DRIVERS' TITLE CONTENDERS:

Pos Driver Points
1 Romain Dumas 152
1 Neel Jani 152
1 Marc Lieb 152
2 Mike Conway 135
2 Stephane Sarrazin 135
2 Kamui Kobayashi 135

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