McNish To Race At Petit Le Mans For Audi Allan McNish will unexpectedly contest a third race of the year when the Scotsman competes for Audi in the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in America next month (26 Sep). The 39-year-old Dumfries-born...
McNish To Race At Petit Le Mans For Audi
Allan McNish will unexpectedly contest a third race of the year when the Scotsman competes for Audi in the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in America next month (26 Sep).
The 39-year-old Dumfries-born ace drives a "factory" Audi R15 TDI along with co-driver Dindo Capello (Italy), the duo along with Tom Kristensen (Denmark), having scored a debut R15 TDI victory in the Sebring 12 Hours (21 March) and then third place in this year's Le Mans 24 Hours (13-14 June).
McNish commented: "I'm personally very pleased, as are Audi Sport, that we are back racing again and especially to be going to Petit which has become one of the biggest sportscar races on the calendar.
"It shows Audi's commitment to sportscars and the American Le Mans Series and I'm personally delighted to be racing in America again."
Audi Sport will glean valuable data from this 1,000-mile race -- an event McNish has already won four times -- concerning its new R15 TDI sports-prototype in readiness for the 2010 season. Meanwhile the scenic and challenging, undulating 2.54-mile, 12-corner Road Atlanta circuit is a favourite of McNish who won by just 4.512secs in his Audi from Peugeot after a near 10 hour epic battle last year.
Former triple American Le Mans Series champion McNish, who has won Petit for the last three years, will face the similar diesel-powered Peugeot cars that defeated Audi at Le Mans in June -- only the third time the German manufacturer had been beaten in the twice-around-the-clock race since its debut in 1999.
"At Le Mans, we saw how much Peugeot had moved forward from our race with them at Sebring and I expect that to have continued," added Allan. "Acura have been racing regularly in ALMS so they will have developed their car significantly since the ALMS season opener which we won first time out with the R15 TDI. But everyone at Audi is really looking forward to the challenge."
The annual 1,000-mile/10-hour sportscar classic, the penultimate round of this year's American Le Mans Series, has run since 1998 and saw a record attendance of 113,000 fans last year. Audi remains undefeated since first contesting the race in 2000.
Allan continued: "I raced in the first ever Petit in 1998 and when I think of last year with over 110,000 spectators witnessing a spectacular race, including my novel way to the starting grid and such a close finish, and with the teams and drivers line-up for '09 it looks like it will be just as much fun."
Britain's double Le Mans 24 Hour race winner lost control of his Audi R10 TDI on his "out" lap en route to take up his front row grid position last year -- starting the race two laps down in 36th place after major repairs with the race three minutes old.
"I enjoy the Road Atlanta track, it is one of the old style tracks with fast corners that follow the natural flow of the land -- it's a track that sorts the men out from the boys," added McNish.
German duo Lucas Luhr and Marco Werner will drive a "sister" Audi Sport Team Joest R15 TDI while Audi's regular DTM driver, Mike Rockenfeller (Germany) is the team's reserve driver in Georgia.
"The race at Road Atlanta already marks the first part of our preparation for the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2010," explains Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. "We want to use it as an opportunity for our engineers to learn even more about the new Audi R15 TDI in direct competition with strong rivals. A lot of things can be simulated on test rigs and in track tests. But nothing can replace the experience gathered in actual racing events."