- “Flying Scotsman” aims for first ILMC race win of the year & add to Audi’ssuccessful 2012 season
Allan McNish hopes to serve up a winning Chinese recipe of his own on Sunday (13 Nov) with the Scotsman aiming to lay to rest a miserable Intercontinental Le Mans Cup season at Zhuhai.
McNish partners Tom Kristensen in a turbo diesel-engined Audi R18 TDI in the seventh and final round of the ILMC which has been particularly cruel to the Dumfries-born ace.
A third, two fourths and a sixth is all the luckless former double Le Mans 24 Hour race winner has to show for his efforts this season in Audi’s sleek new V6 TDI powered Coupe.
A series of blameless collisions, all but one while lapping slower GT traffic, have cost McNish the chance of victory in four of the six races this year.
McNish & Kristensen finished second in last year’s corresponding inaugural Chinese race, less than five seconds behind the winning Peugeot, after a Safety Car period eroded a 32secs lead McNish had amassed.
“Audi goes to Zhuhai with the ILMC title already decided in favour of our rivals so I have one goal in mind, which is to win the final race of the year,” confirmed McNish.
“We [Audi] won the big one, the Le Mans 24 Hours, but for me personally I’m eager to finish what has been a largely frustrating season on a high note.
“Since our Le Mans victory in June, the R18 TDI has been developed further and I think our performances at Silverstone and in Atlanta, have shown us to be right on the pace and in contention for race wins if it had not been for silly little incidents.
“The Zhuhai race is going to be a close fight between us and Peugeot again – just like last year. A Safety Car cost us a lot of time then there were some dubious tactics employed by the opposition in the closing stages which delayed our progress.”
The McNish/Kristensen Audi is joined by a “sister” R18 TDI of Marcel Fässler (Switzerland) and Timo Bernhard (Germany) in the six-hour race around the 2.7-mile, 14-corner Zhuhai International Circuit located at Jin Ding town in Zhuhai.
Allan continued: “Zhuhai features a couple of slow, ‘hairpin’ corners which are not necessarily ideal for the R18 TDI which is designed for the fast, sweeping corners of Le Mans, while another big question mark for me hangs over the weather and if we get rain showers like we did through the course of the week last year. When it rains there, it rains – I guess a bit like Scotland!
“My first ever journey outside of Europe as a racing driver was to Macau in 1989 and it was like a massive adventure. Going to Zhuhai last year, which is only an hour or so from Macau, brought back a lot of memories.”
Two practice sessions are staged on Friday (0230-0330 & 0730-0830), a third on Saturday (0200-0300) prior to a 20-minute qualifying session (0700-0720). A “warm-up” (0100-0120) precedes the race scheduled to start at 0400 UK time.