x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

McNish looks for a perfect Le Mans

Allan McNish knows the only way to win Le Mans is through sheer perfection over the course of the 24 hours.

The Audi R15 TDi  driver Dindo Capello, right, overtakes the  Peugeot 908 Hdi-Fap driven by French Jean-Christophe Boullion during qualifying for the famous 24 hour race.
The Audi R15 TDi driver Dindo Capello, right, overtakes the Peugeot 908 Hdi-Fap driven by French Jean-Christophe Boullion during qualifying for the famous 24 hour race.

Allan McNish knows the only way to win Le Mans is through sheer perfection over the course of the 24 hours. McNish, along with co-drivers Dindo Capello and the record eight-time winner Tom Kristensen, are gunning for back-to-back victories this weekend after edging out bitter rivals Peugeot in a thrilling duel last year. The Scot, 39, starts from second on the grid in his Audi R15 TDi after being pipped to pole by Peugeot's Stephane Sarrazin by just 0.762 seconds last night. For Sarrazin, who is joined by fellow Frenchmen Sebastien Bourdais and Franck Montagny in the 908 HDi, it is his third consecutive pole, equalling a record set by the legendary Jacky Ickx from 1981-83. McNish, though, is currently on a hot streak as he has won the last three races he has competed in for Audi, and he has no intention of seeing the run come to an end. "I've won three of the four races I've done since winning Le Mans last June," remarked McNish. "I won at Silverstone (in September) and Road Atlanta (October) last year, and then at Sebring (March). "So I'd very much like to continue that winning sequence in what is the biggest sports car race in the world. "Le Mans is a F1 season's racing in 24 hours, and is now a flat out 'sprint' race from start to finish. "It requires absolutely everyone, mechanics, engineers and drivers to make a perfect, mistake-free race to have a chance of winning. "But the one thing you can be sure of is to expect the unexpected at Le Mans." With victory in eight of the last nine years, Audi are the team to beat, however McNish is expecting a stern challenge from the works Peugeots, who also occupy third and fifth places on the grid. "It was fantastic to finally score another Le Mans victory a year ago, especially after duelling with Peugeot all the way through," added McNish. "But I am conscious that the competition is always getting stronger and as reigning champions, we are the ones everyone else is aiming to shoot down. "I believe this race will be even tougher than last year because Peugeot want revenge, while Aston Martin want to prove they have what it takes and we want to continue our incredible winning run." The 'sister' Audis start sixth and seventh, with the Aston Martins eighth and ninth in the more technically advanced LMP1 category. Anthony Davidson, the former F1 driver with the now defunct Super Aguri team and currently an expert summariser on Radio 5 Live, feels he has a chance of being on the podium in his first Le Mans. "I've got a good feeling," said Davidson, who is partnered by Jos Verstappen and Darren Turner, who last year triumphed with Aston Martin in the GT1 class. "I followed one of the Audis for a while, and the only place he pulled away from me was through the Porsche Curves. "Everywhere else it wasn't hard to keep up, and that was while we were on race pace. "So with that in mind, I'm quite positive about the race. If we run through to the end without problems, we will finish on the podium." Jan Magnussen heads the GT1 category in a Corvette, while another Dane in Casper Elgaard topped qualifying in the LMP2 class in his Porsche RS Spyder. *PA Sport