Istanbul: Audi race report

Allan McNish swept his Audi R8 home to second place in the fifth and final round of the Le Mans Endurance Series in Turkey today (SUN). McNish and French co-driver Stephane Ortelli finished the six-hour, 574-mile race staged in treacherous ...

Allan McNish swept his Audi R8 home to second place in the fifth and final round of the Le Mans Endurance Series in Turkey today (SUN).

McNish and French co-driver Stephane Ortelli finished the six-hour, 574-mile race staged in treacherous conditions at Istanbul Park, 69-seconds behind the winning Pescarolo.

Dumfries-born McNish started the Audi Playstation Team Oreca R8 from the second row of the 32-car grid with Ortelli moving from fourth to second place after 82minutes.

McNish was back in second position at half-distance, 25 seconds behind the pole-starting Pescarolo of Emmanuel Collard/Jean-Christophe Boullion which had been forced to overhaul the Nicolas Minassian/Jamie Campbell-Walter/Jean-Denis Deletraz (DBA) when the latter benefited from a near one-lap lead after a Safety Car mix-up.

In varying degrees of rain, McNish reduced the Pescarolo's lead to just 10 seconds with two hours to run and inherited the lead when the Pescarolo made its penultimate scheduled pit-stop with 90mins remaining.

The Audi resumed after its own pit-stop with Ortelli back at the wheel and with a 30-seconds lead when the Oreca team decided to save time and not change tyres. But the rain eased and the Audi, running on older "wet" tyres on a drying track compared to the Pescarolo, was powerless to prevent it re-taking the lead with one hour to go.

"It was a race of ever-changing conditions," confirmed McNish. "One moment the track was almost flooded, causing the Audi to aquaplane, but 15minutes later the track would be drying allowing the Pescarolo to press home its advantage due the power and weight restrictions imposed on our Audi R8.

"Our Michelin tyres were good so we decided to save time and not change when Stephane took over from me. Unfortunately the heavy rain we were hoping to get only came in the last 15minutes - we were in the lap of the Gods."

The LMES finale brought the curtain down on the Audi R8's European race activity. New technical regulations come into force for the Le Mans 24 Hours and the Le Mans Series in 2006.

Since making its race debut in 2000, the Audi R8 has scored 61 outright race victories from 77 races - including five Le Mans 24 Hour victories.

Ortelli added: "I have won one race and finished second in the three LMES races I've done with Allan since August. We were determined to sign off the Audi R8 with a win but unfortunately it was not to be. The Oreca team and Michelin have done a great job all season."

-audi-

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