Formula One driver Mark Webber will swap horsepower for pedal power just ten days after winning the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix when he joins a 60-strong field for the the Swisse Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge on Wednesday.
The Australian’s charity multi-sport race sees two-person teams take on some of Australia’s most rugged scenery over five tough days of racing, with Webber to set the pace alongside top adventure racer Guy Andrews on certain stages during the opening day.
The course covers approximately 350km and involves a variety of disciplines including mountain biking, kayaking, trail running and rope work.
“It was great to end the F1 season on a high with a win in Brazil and that has really set my competitive juices flowing for the challenge,” said Webber, who finished third in the F1 Championship behind Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button
“It’s such a buzz to have the event back on again [after a three-year break] – I’ve missed it – and I can’t wait to get back into the wild and race through those great Tasmanian trails again.”
The keen cyclist added: “We live life in a bit of a fishbowl in F1 and it’s great to get back out to nature. What I love about the challenge is not only the scenery but also the chance to get to know some real characters. Everyone has a similar mindset – it’s competitive, but there’s also a lot of camaraderie involved.
“Some days will involve up to 90kms of racing, so it’s a tough event, but it’s all about getting to the finish and if someone’s struggling the other competitors know how to pick them up and help them get through. The greatest stories we’ve had in the event come from those real heroes who achieve beyond what they thought they could.
“It’s a great tonic for me to see that, and also to see the funds that everyone raises for the chosen charities. It’s also a good chance to unwind a bit, and it will set me up for what I hope will be a good winter of preparation to fight hard for the F1 championship again when we get back on track again next year.”
Webber can only compete on day one in Australia due to long-standing F1 commitments but will still sample one of the challenge’s biggest thrills – a 50m abseil over the picture postcard Wineglass Bay.
“The opening day of the event always has a great atmosphere and I am looking forward to taking to the start line with all this year’s competitors,” he said.
“The route looks like it’s going to be awesome and there’s plenty to keep us busy on day one with bikes, kayaks, running and kayaking all in the mix – not to mention that big drop.
“I would love to do more of the event but my F1 commitments take priority and I need to be in India and the UK later this week but I will be watching online to see how it’s all going and I am sure Guy and Darren Clark, who will pick up my baton, will keep flying the flag.”
Visit www.markwebbertasmanichallenge.com to follow the challenge.