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MARK WEBBER has finally been recognised for his contribution to his country.

The man who likes to be called ‘Aussie Grit’ has received an AO – as an Officer of the Order of Australia – in this year’s Australia Day honours.
Only 140 AOs are presented each year and Webber’s citation says he receives the award “For distinguished service to Motorsport as a competitor and ambassador and to the community through fund raising and patronage of a range of medical and youth support organisations”.

“It’s a bit of a surprise, to be honest,” he told Auto Action from his home in England.

“But I think it’s an absolute honour to be recognised as that level.

“It’s been a long-term run over here. I left a long time ago and it’s been nice to fly the flag at level.”

“I hope I represented Australia as best I could.”
Meanwhile Webber will make a rare appearance at Bathurst next week. He will be leading the Porsche horde cheering for a 911 victory in the Bathurst 12-Hour race.

Webber is attending the event as part of his work as a Porsche ambassador and will arrive in Australia straight from the Daytona 24-Hour sports car endurance race in the USA.

He tells Auto Action that cannot even remember the last time he was at the Bathurst track, apart from racing a Formula Ford in 1995, despite persistent questions throughout his career about a Supercars start in The Big One.

“I’m struggling to think when I’ve gone there since 1995. It’s only been once,” Webber says.
“I haven’t needed to go there.”

With a pair of factory-backed 911 RSRs in the field, being run by the Walkinshaw team, he is confident of a strong showing despite the toughest field in the history of the event.

“I think the race is going to be good. We haven’t had a decent Porsche go down there for some time.
“Consultancy is a big part of my role with Porsche. I want to keep an eye on what’s happening in the various categories.”

Webber says he is keeping busy with his various commitments, including Porsche and Red Bull, and has yet to feel that he has fully retired from racing.
“I think I’ll know I’ve retired when I got to a sports car race and stand in the garage all weekend with Porsche,” he says.