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Allan McNish must win the eighth and final round of the FIA World Endurance Championship on Sunday (28 Oct) to snatch the prestigious “crown” from the Scotsman’s Audi Sport team-mates.
McNish and co-driver Tom Kristensen (Den) start the Shanghai Six Hour race 16.5-points behind Marcel Fässler (CH)/André Lotterer (D)/Benoît Tréluyer (F) who drive a similar “factory” hybrid diesel Audi R18 e-tron quattro.
Even a second WEC victory for McNish and Kristensen may not be enough as a sixth place finish would still give this year’s Le Mans 24 Hour race winners Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer the world title.
“Victory is the only thing that can keep us in contention,” confirmed Allan. “Tom and I cannot afford to worry about where our ‘sister’ car places – it’s just a case of us going on full out attack after recent race results.”
Leading the title race going into Silverstone in late August, McNish’s “home” race and subsequent three races have yielded one second place and three thirds – compared to their title rival’s two wins and two second place finishes.
Allan continued: “After Le Mans where we finished second in the hybrid diesel Audi, we then raced the conventional diesel-engined R18 ultra at Silverstone and in Brazil. In those races we could see that the R18 e-tron quattro was faster in ‘traffic’ and Audi Sport generously gave us equal equipment for the remaining races in Bahrain, Japan and China.
“I claimed pole-position in Bahrain, like I had done at Spa prior to Le Mans, with the R18 e-tron quattro, but a brake balance issue caused excessive tyre wear while we had to change the front bodywork three times for various reasons.
“In Japan, our car mysteriously lacked pace compared to our team-mates which all combines to leave Tom and I with an up hill battle in Shanghai but we’ll give it our best shot that’s for sure.”
The six hour race will be staged on the 3.39-mile Grand Prix circuit located 30-miles north-west of the city.
“I have never been to Shanghai having only raced in China at the Zhuhai circuit for the last couple of years,” continued McNish.
“The circuit characteristics look similar to those of Bahrain and maybe Fuji where the majority of the corners are slow and long. It definitely will be a climax to the season. The drivers of one of the Audi cars are going to come out as the winners of the Championship and I’m hoping that will be Tom and I.”
The Audi R18 e-tron quattro is powered by a conventional V6 turbocharged diesel engine delivering around 510hp through the rear wheels but benefits briefly from an extra near 200hp, transmitted only through its front axle above 75mph at four specific “zones” using power “harvested” under braking.
The race is scheduled to begin at 0300*.
* Race time is -8hrs Shanghai
McNish WEC Title Permutations
* Allan wins title if McNish/Kristensen claims pole-position, then wins race, withFässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer “sister” Audi sixth or lower
* Allan wins title if neither Audi starts from pole-position, McNish/Kristensen wins race, with Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer “sister” Audi sixth or lower
* Allan wins title if neither Audi starts from pole-position, McNish/Kristensen finishes second or better with Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer “sister” Audi 10th or lower
2012 FIA World Endurance Championship (after 7 rounds)
Driver’s: 1st Marcel Fässler (CH)/André Lotterer (D)/Benoît Tréluyer (F), 157.5pts. 2nd Allan McNish (GB)/Tom Kristensen (DEN), 141pts. LMP1 Manufacturers': 1stAudi*, 191pts. 2nd Toyota, 70pts (*Audi already Champions).