Sep 9 2011 by Susan Bryden, Dumfries Standard Friday
Allan McNish bids to give Audi’s Le Mans 24 Hour race winning diesel-engined Coupé a début victory on British soil when he contests the Autosport Six Hours of Silverstone on Sunday.
Audi scored its 10th Le Mans triumph in 13 years but only after Dumfries-born McNish had stepped uninjured from his spectacular accident early in the race, the tremendous strength of the Audi R18 TDI saving him from major injury.
Having “only” scored a third (Spa) and two fourths (Sebring and Imola) from the previous four Intercontinental Le Mans Cup races this year, McNish is doubly determined to net his maiden win in the 3.7-litre turbo diesel machine that only made its race début four months ago.
“Every time I go into a race I’m looking for a victory and that obviously includes Silverstone – especially so this year after the season I’ve had so far,” confirmed McNish.
“I led at Sebring before a collision ruled us out of a podium finish. Spun on the opening lap at Spa then we had a puncture. Led at Le Mans for about 10 metres before the accident which was pretty dramatic to say the least. Meanwhile our last race at Imola was difficult for the Audi Sport team in general.”
McNish, who shares his Audi R18 TDI with Tom Kristensen (Den), has already won the corresponding Silverstone race three times (2004/05/08). He started from pole-position last year and led the race only for the former double Le Mans race winner to suffer his first ever mechanical-related retirement in his Audi career.
Allan continued: “The Six Hour race will mark the UK competition début of our Le Mans winning R18 TDI. I believe the track, which features a lot of aerodynamic corners, will suit it well. I’ve won the corresponding Silverstone race three times already, twice in the R8 and most recently in the R10 TDI.
“We are very focused on getting back on track and getting some good points in the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup at Silverstone.
“The fight between Audi and Peugeot has never been very far apart. Sometimes they have been quicker in qualifying and we have taken the race win and sometimes it’s the other way around. So I think Silverstone will be just another one of those titanic battles between us and our French rivals.” The Six Hour race will utilise Silverstone’s revised 3.666-mile “Grand Prix” circuit for the second time but the new “Wing” pit and paddock for the first occasion.
“Competition in the ILMC is hard but we’re out for maximum points although we know it will be a very hard fought race,” continued McNish who, along with Kristensen and Audi Sport’s “reserve” driver Marco Bonanomi, competes in the TriStar111 Triathlon event in Monaco on Sunday (4 Sep).
“We raced on the new circuit last year but it’s a bit different again this time around as we’ll be using the new ‘Wing’ pit/paddock complex.”
A second Audi Sport Team Joest R18 TDI of Timo Bernhard (D) and Marcel Fässler (CH) also competes, Timo and Marcel being amongst Audi’s winning driver trio at Le Mans in 2010 and ’11 respectively.
Practice sessions on Friday (1315-1415 & 1700-1800) and Saturday (0900-1000) precedes a 20-minute qualifying session that day for the anticipated 50 plus car field at 1405 with the race scheduled to start at 1131 on Sunday after a 20-minute “warm-up” on raceday.