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Allan McNish remains firmly in the FIA World Endurance Championship title race after the Scotsman recorded a third place finish in the São Paulo Six Hour race today (Saturday 15 Sep).
McNish, regular co-driver Tom Kristensen (Den) and local favourite Lucas di Grassi (BRA) steered their diesel-engined Audi R18 ultra home 74.679 seconds behind race winners Alex Wurz/Nicholas Lapierre (Toyota).
Dumfries-born McNish and Kristensen now lie 7.5-points behind Audi Sport team-mates Marcel Fässler (CH)/André Lotterer (D)/Benoît Tréluyer (F) in the eight-race series with just two races remaining after the next round in Bahrain (29 Sep) – their hybrid-diesel Audi finishing just 13.901secs ahead of the McNish Audi.
The 661-mile race staged at the historic 2.676-mile Autódromo de Interlagos was only McNish’s second ever race in Brazil in his 30 year motorsport career – the Scotsman previously competing in the 2002 Formula One Grand Prix.
“Congratulations to Toyota for an excellent victory. We’d worked hard with our Audi to get a good race [handling] balance and that’s what we had but today was the maximum that the R18 ultra could achieve.
“We were quick on a single lap but in ‘traffic’, the hybrids had an advantage. I was very pleased with my double stint at the beginning and also the way that things ran from there on in. We were as competitive as we could be – Tom and I now just look ahead to Bahrain and concentrate on that race and getting back in front in the championship.”
McNish started the six hour race from second place courtesy of di Grassi’s efforts in qualifying the previous day, alongside the pole-starting Toyota with the Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer (Audi) third on the 28-car grid, but the Scotsman slipped to third 12mins in.
Kristensen took over the third-placed Audi from McNish with almost two hours gone – Allan having led briefly during the scheduled re-fuelling pit-stop phase – but the Dane lost valuable time soon afterwards with a spin following contact with a slower car.
Approaching mid-race, Kristensen went one lap down to the leading Toyota after pitting for fuel and tyres during the race’s first full course caution period before setting a searing pace.
Di Grassi entered the fray placed third, 16secs behind the Fässler/Lotterer/ Tréluyer Audi with 140mins remaining and despite the Brazilian setting the fastest lap of the race with 45mins to run, remained third to the chequered flag.
McNish returns home to Monaco briefly before heading to Singapore for next weekend’s Formula One Grand Prix (21-23 Sep) in the role of an FIA Steward.
2012 FIA World Endurance Championship (after 5 rounds)
Driver’s: 1st Marcel Fässler (CH)/André Lotterer (D)/Benoît Tréluyer (F), 114.5pts. 2nd Allan McNish (GB)/Tom Kristensen (DEN), 107pts. LMP1 Manufacturers': 1stAudi*, 147pts. 2nd Toyota, 43pts (*Audi already Champions).