Scottish racer Allan McNish is known for telling a good story and this one might top the charts!
I thought it was a long trip getting from Los Angeles to Le Mans, but my voyage was uneventful compared to what Audi star Allan McNish went through on Monday – and he was only traveling from Nice in the south of France!
McNish intended to arrive with time to spare for Monday’s date at scrutineering. So he dropped his eight-year-old son off as the lad prepared for a class trip intended to last from Monday through Saturday, less than two hours from McNish’s site at The Sarthe. A friend drove him to the airport and Allan climbed on a commuter shuttle that was supposed to get him to Orly airport in just around half an hour. “When we got 10 minutes out and started to descend, they said there’s a huge storm at Orly and they’ve closed the airport,” McNish said.
“I looked out the window and didn’t see a cloud in the sky and thought it must be a really local storm… ” and the pilot diverted to Roissy at Charles de Gaulle airport. “About five minutes later the pilot said Charles de Gaulle can’t take us because there’s a big storm there and they’re probably going to close the airport; he said we’re going to Lyon, which is effectively doing a u-turn going back where we came from!”
McNish’s commuter plane landed at Lyon around 11:30 for refueling, with the intent of getting back in the skies 2-1/2 hours later. The driver was supposed to get off the train in Le Mans at 2:30 and have a hire car take him to scrutineering, so that scenario wasn’t going to work. He texted Audi immediately to let them know the situation. “I figured there might be other people in the same situation” coming from Paris.
The pilot got an earlier departure slot and they lifted off for Orly and the TGV train, only to discover the train had already departed. “I had to jump on the next TGV and made it here at 4:45PM,” McNish said. “As I was getting off the train I could see some other Audi Sport drivers so I knew we’d be okay. I actually had perfect timing because I got there and went directly to driver scrutineering, changed clothes, got signed on, did the weight check, went straight out and did the pictures, came back in and did the interviews and went straight onto the stage and the ceremony there.
“From there it was back to the truck, get changed, go to the hotel and to dinner – it was perfect timing as what would normally have taken four and a half hours was done in two – it was one of the fastest scrutineerings I’ve ever had,” and Allan McNish has been coming to Le Mans since 1997! “There was no waiting around, no hanging around… “
Allan McNish had one interesting adventure getting to Le Mans, but at least he didn’t have to deal with the customary jet lag like some people we know.