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Allan McNish - Le Mans 24 Hours Race Report

Posted on Sunday, June 17, 2007 @ 20:27:07 BST by audioc

Allan McNish cruelly missed out on becoming the first British driver to win the legendary Le Mans 24 Hour endurance race driving a diesel-powered sportscar for a second consecutive year as his Audi team-mates again triumphed. The 37-year-old Scotsman along with co-drivers Dindo Capello (It) and Tom Kristensen (Den) had dominated the race for over 16½ hours in their diesel-engined Audi in the 75th running of the gruelling twice around the clock marathon which finished today (17 June). But 1998 Le Mans winner McNish, who had finished third for the previous two years, suffered misery when the diesel engined Audi being driven by co-driver Dindo Capello crashed off at high speed. “It’s very difficult to put in to words how I feel,” said a crestfallen McNish. “We had a car that dominated the race for almost 17 hours and had a lead of over three laps thanks, not only to the speed of our Audi, but fantastic strategy plus great teamwork. “But then Le Mans bit us and I feel very hollow because it’s another year before I can come back and have another crack at winning it again. “The rear left wheel came adrift at Indianapolis corner at around 150mph – not a great 43rd birthday present for Dindo – and he was just a ‘passenger’, unable to do anything to prevent the crash. Thankfully he was uninjured in the heavy impact but obviously the accident ended our race.” The similar “works” Audi R10 TDI of 2006 Le Mans winners Frank Biela (D)/Emanuele Pirro (I)/Marco Werner (D) – who had made history by scoring a diesel win in the French “classic” 12 months ago – went on to earn Audi a seventh Le Mans victory since the German manufacturer’s début in 1999. Their victorious Audi completed 369 laps, a total distance of 3,125-miles, finishing 10-laps – 84.7-miles – ahead of the second-placed Peugeot. Only 29 of the original 54-car grid finished the rain-affected race watched by over 260,000 spectators. McNish had got behind the wheel for the first time with almost five hours on the clock, co-drivers Capello – who had snatched the lead at the first corner on the opening lap – and Kristensen having built up almost a one lap lead. The “Flying Scotsman”, who was competing at Le Mans for the eighth time, set a string of fastest race lap times during a 2hr 27min stint on Saturday evening despite the Scotsman feeling unwell from food poisoning. He next took the wheel at 3.48am on Sunday morning and again set a series of stunning lap times, a 3min 27.176secs lap record at 5.41am remaining the fastest lap of the race in a near three hour period behind the wheel, his Audi now boasting a three-lap lead less than an hour before disaster struck with Capello at the wheel. Meanwhile the third “factory” entered diesel Audi of Mike Rockenfeller (D)/Lucas Luhr (D)/Alexandre Prémat (F), which started fifth on the grid and briefly led during the pit-stop phases, crashed out after 92mins on the wet and treacherously slippery track.

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