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Allan McNish was unable to snatch the FIA World Endurance Championship title from his Audi Sport team-mates despite the Briton posting second place in his hybrid diesel Audi in the eighth and final round of the series in Shanghai today (SUN).
The Dumfries-born Scotsman and co-driver Tom Kristensen (Denmark) finished 58.570secs behind race winners Alex Wurz/Nicolas Lapierre (Toyota) in the 647.49-mile race.
But with the “sister” Audi R18 e-tron quattro of Marcel Fässler (CH)/André Lotterer (D)/Benoît Tréluyer (F) finishing third – 44.244secs adrift of the McNish/Kristensen Audi – it was the 2011 & ’12 Le Mans 24 Hour race winning trio who claimed the 2012 World Championship Drivers’ title.
McNish and Kristensen, who scored one win, three seconds, three thirds and a fourth placing in this year’s WEC, ultimately finished 13.5-points behind their Audi Sport team-mates.
“Second position was the best we could have achieved today,” reflected McNish. “Tom and I extracted the maximum out of our Audi. Congratulations to Marcel, Ben and André on winning the WEC title.
“Tom and I knew a win was required and even then, it would need to be bad fortune on our ‘sister’ car for the title to come to TK and I. That is unlikely to happen driving for Audi as our cars are ultra reliable.”
Denied of pole-position by a mere 0.1secs in qualifying the previous day, McNish started the six-hour race on the front row beside the Toyota with the “sister” Audi in third place on the 28-car grid – positions remaining static for the opening three hours apart from the McNish/Kristensen Audi inheriting the lead briefly at each scheduled Toyota pit-stop.
Kristensen, having taken over from McNish with 103mins gone, lay second at mid-distance, 80secs behind the leading Toyota with the “sister” Audi a further 23secs adrift in third.
McNish was back behind the wheel with 2½hrs remaining then handed over to Kristensen an hour later who then drove their Audi home to the chequered flag.
Allan continued: “Tom and I were pretty strong. We had a good set-up on our Audi and we were as fast as we could have been but on this occasion, the Toyota was faster. Nevertheless this race marked probably one of our best performances for TK and I in the latter half of the season.
“We’ll all be working very hard over the winter. Audi Sport is very aware of the level of competition required to be competitive in sportscar racing at this level. We’ll be optimising many elements for 2013.”
The McNish/Kristensen Audi won the Michelin Green X Challenge for a seventh consecutive race to top the season-long standings in recognition of being the “cleanest, fastest and most efficient” in the LMP1 sports-prototype category.
2012 FIA World Endurance Championship (after 8 rounds)
Driver’s: 1st Marcel Fässler (CH)/André Lotterer (D)/Benoît Tréluyer (F), 172.5pts; 2nd Allan McNish (GB)/Tom Kristensen (DEN), 159pts. LMP1 Manufacturers’: 1st Audi*, 209pts. 2nd Toyota, 95pts (*Audi already Champions).