Motorsport News - Le Mans
Mcnish Gets World Championship Title Assault Off To Winning Start
20th March 2012
Scotsman claims his fourth and Audi’s 10th Sebring 12 Hour race victory to earn maximum points in title quest in Audi 1-2 at Sebring 12 Hours
Britain’s Allan McNish got his FIA World Endurance Championship assault off to a flying start in Florida today (Saturday 17 Mar).
The Scotsman claimed maximum points in the opening round of the eight-race series after steering his diesel-powered “works” Audi R18 TDI to a dominant four-lap victory in the Sebring 12 Hours with co-drivers Tom Kristensen (Denmark) and Dindo Capello (Italy).
McNish snatched the lead on the opening lap and his Audi went on to lead all but 66 of the 325-laps clocked-up at an average speed of 101.263mph in a race featuring 11 full course safety cautions.
Dumfries-born McNish has now won North America’s oldest surviving sportscar race four times with Audi victorious 10 times in just 13 starts.
“It’s a superb way to begin my world driver’s championship assault,” commented McNish. “The race was superb from start to finish. We did a good job setting the car up for the race and not focussing particularly on qualifying. We knew it would be difficult with so many cars on track and so concentrated on making the Audi agile and consistent in terms of handling which we achieved.”
McNish had begun the 12 hour race from second position on the 64-car grid – the first time the 2011 Le Mans 24 Hour race winning turbo diesel Audi Coupé had raced at the bumpy but fast 3.7-mile, 17-corner Florida track. Allan went on to complete three “stints” totalling almost five hours in hot and humid weather conditions.
The similar 2011-specification “factory” Audi R18 TDI of Romain Dumas (F)/Timo Bernhard (D)/Loïc Duval (F) earned Audi a fine 1-2 despite this car losing time for repairs in the final hour after a collision with a slower car.
Meanwhile the “pole” starting Audi of 2011 Le Mans winners Marcel Fässler (CH)/André Lotterer (D)/Benoît Tréluyer (F) recovered to finish 16th overall – fifth in WEC – after losing 30mins for repairs to the electrical shifting unit on the transmission after seven hours.
Allan added: “Our R18 TDI was the best I’ve ever had in a race and so it’s a fitting way for it to go into retirement. I'm now looking forward to the future and driving the R18 e-tron quattro hybrid sportscar.”
McNish now concentrates on the Audi R18 e-tron quattro in readiness for the new Le Mans prototype’s race début on May 5 in the 6-hour race at Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium) – the second round of the WEC.
McNish/Kristensen/Capello race together at Spa and then fight for overall victory at Le Mans (June 16-17) with the new hybrid diesel Audi.
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