Jun 15 2012 by Andrew Burns, Dumfries Standard Friday
DUMFRIES racing star Allan McNish returns to the scene of one of the most terrifying moments of his career this weekend.
McNish, 42, miraculously walked unscathed from a 185mph horror smash on the notorious La Sarthe circuit at Le Mans 24 Hours last June.
He was sent flying when his Audi R18 TDI car was clipped, spraying bodywork and wheels over the catch-fencing, but he climbed from the wreckage somehow only battered and bruised.
And ahead of this year’s sports car classic, which kicks off on Saturday, the ex-F1 racer insists that he can’t dwell on the frightening incident.
He said: “2011 Le Mans was certainly a thrilling race.
“For my car it was very short and obviously quite catastrophic, in terms of the accident and the results of that.
“When you go to Le Mans you go there very determined to win and that incident was last year, it’s in the past, and forgotten about.”
McNish goes into the 80th Le Mans 24 Hours on Saturday aiming to win the legendary race for a third time, following success in 1998 and 2008.
The Scotsman, who now lives in Monte Carlo, Monaco, made his debut at Le Mans in 1997 and has a fine record in the prestigious event, achieving seven podiums.
This year’s twice-around-the-clock race is the third round of the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Dumfries-born McNish won the first race, the Sebring 12 Hours in America, and finished fourth in the Spa Six Hours in Belgium, which leaves him trailing Audi team-mates Romain Dumas and Loïc Duval by just two points.
With 50 points on offer to the Le Mans winning drivers in the eight-race World Endurance Championship, McNish has a double incentive for more Le Mans glory.
He said: “After setting the fastest time in the one-day test recently we [Audi] can head back to Le Mans for the race week knowing we have a good base point in terms of car set-up.
“The team has been studying data in the meantime so that we can further improve but I was very satisfied from what we learned there recently.
“Going back to Le Mans is always very special and the race itself is always an amazing occasion.
“This year, like back in 2001 and 2006, when Audi brought in TFSI turbo direct petrol injection and then TDI turbo diesel, we debut a new technology in the form of the diesel hybrid and another era in what is arguably the most historic and well-known motor race in the world.”
McNish will drive a pioneering diesel hybrid Audi sportscar in the twice-around-the-clock endurance race, sharing his Audi R18 e-tron quattro with eight-time Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen of Denmark and Dindo Capello of Italy, who has won the race three times.
He added: “With the R18 e-tron quattro, which I drive, and the ‘normal’ turbo diesel R18 ultra, Audi has two car concepts capable of winning Le Mans and scoring win number 11.
“I gave this car a debut race pole-position in May but I’m now focused on giving it a maiden win at Le Mans but know it’s going to be tough.
“We’ve prepared well and I can’t wait to get on track again.”