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- Retired Dumfries-born race ace at centre of the action in 24 hour event
Three-time Le Mans 24 Hour race winner and reigning World Sportscar Champion Allan McNish will be actively involved at Le Mans next weekend (14-15 June) despite not competing himself.
The Scotsman will be involved in all team debriefs and hands-on with the nine driver squad in the pits during the race as Audi bids to record its 13th Le Mans victory since the German manufacturer’s debut in 1999.
Additionally Allan has been chosen by the race’s organising Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) to be this year’s Grand Marshal. One of his duties will be to drive the official vehicle that leads the cars around on the formation lap.
McNish commented: “Le Mans this year is definitely going to be a spectacle. The fight between Audi, Toyota and Porsche will be magical. Each of these three big manufacturers have great driver line-ups and each has a different [hybrid] solution.
“Audi returns to Le Mans as the current and long term champion. Porsche goes back as the new pretender after such a great history in the past but coming back to the top-level motorsport after 16 years of being away. Meanwhile Toyota, the main competitor for Audi and myself over the last couple of years with two WEC victories leading into Le Mans, must be considered a very strong force too.
“But we all know Le Mans is a very different race, it is a full season of racing in a day and to win Le Mans you have got to beat the circuit. More recently records show that you have got to beat Audi.
“Knowing Audi extremely well as I do, when these guys go there it is like a second home for them. Audi Sport knows the place like the back of its hand, as do the Joest guys of course.
“But they won’t rely on their previous history. They’ve been working very hard over the winter developing the new R18 e-tron quattro to make sure that they prepare the best way they can as a team.
Audi’s three-car entry comprises Loïc Duval (F)/Lucas di Grassi (BR)/Tom Kristensen (DK), Marcel Fässler (CH)/André Lotterer (D)/Benoît Tréluyer (F) plus Oliver Jarvis (GB)/Marco Bonanomi (I)/Filipe Albuquerque (P).
“Audi Sport Team Joest enters three cars,” continued Allan. “The third car isn’t running the entire WEC championship but did, as in previous years, run at Spa with Marco and Filipe. Oliver joins them for Le Mans. That is a strong car in its own right but when added to the other two cars it is a pretty formidable line up.
“It will be interesting from my point of view being there this time. I have been to Le Mans before when I’ve not been driving. In 2001, when I was driving in Formula One, I was commentating for the American SPEED TV channel. Hopefully I will be able to enjoy Le Mans a little bit more instead of having to totally focus on only winning the race as a driver.
“It is such a big event that I don’t think you can help but get dragged in to the enthusiasm and passion of the fans but also the place as well. I will be active conducting a lot of PR and marketing appointments but also with Audi Sport in terms of keeping a watching eye over our three cars – especially car No3 with the young guys on-board.
“I’m hoping that I can give them a benefit of some of my many experiences at Le Mans and help them climb onto the podium.”
An invited field of 55 cars will contest the 82nd running of the event which begins at 2pm (BST) on Saturday (14 June).