Jun 20 2012 by Andrew Burns, Dumfries Standard Wednesday
GUTTED Allan McNish cursed his luck after a late crash denied him Le Mans glory.
Dumfries star McNish, 42, had looked on course for his third win in the world’s most demanding endurance race.
But with just two hours 45 minutes of the 24-hour endurance classic left – and leading Audi team-mate Andre Lotterer by 49 seconds – he ploughed head-on into the barrier.
With the front of the car smashed, McNish was forced to return to the pits.
Repairs lasted an agonising nine minutes, allowing German star Lotterer to overtake and charge to victory.
McNish said: “I am absolutely devastated for the entire team – my co-drivers Dindo Capello and Tom Kristensen, our engineers and mechanics – they all did a superb job throughout the race.
“We came back from some problems and were in a good position and fighting for victory with only a few hours to go.”
McNish and co-drivers Kristensen and Capello finished second in their diesel hybrid Audi R18 e-tron quattro as Lotterer, Marcel Fassler and Benoit Treluyer retained the title.
Audi claimed an historic 11th victory and all three podium spots in the legendary sportscar endurance race, attended by around 240,000 spectators.
Second place means McNish, who was in the Audi for more than nine and a half hours in four separate driving stints, has been on the podium for three out of the past four years since his last win in 2008.
But not even a ninth podium finish in 13 Le Mans appearances could provide solace for the “devastated” racer.
McNish added: “I came through the Porsche Curves, where it narrows, and there was a slower GT car and I expected him to move out to the right, which he didn’t do.
“I’m not sure why he didn’t – but the next thing I remember was spinning backwards and hitting the barrier with the right front.
“I got the car back to the pits and the team did a fantastic job to change damaged suspension and bodywork but we lost us a lap and any chance of victory.
“I’m hugely disappointed.”
Despite his setback McNish, a previous winner of the annual French race in 1998 and 2008, now leads the eight-race FIA World Endurance Championship by 6.5 points after three rounds and has set his sights on achieving title success come October.
The fourth round of the WEC is staged at Silverstone on 26 August.