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The outcome of the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship title remains open after Allan McNish posted a third place finish in the penultimate round of the season at Mount Fuji in Japan today (Sunday 14 Oct).
McNish and co-driver Tom Kristensen (Den) now lie 16.5-points behind Audi team-mates Marcel Fässler (CH)/André Lotterer (D)/Benoît Tréluyer (F) who finished second in their similar “factory”hybrid-diesel Audi in the race won by Alex Wurz/Nicolas Lapierre/Kazuki Nakajima (Toyota).
“It was a very difficult and disappointing race,” commented McNish. “I made a good start but halfway through my first stint, just after André had slipped past, I got a lot of vibration due to [rubber] pick-up that also continued for Tom.
“We struggled from then on until the end of the race. We weren’t consistently fast enough and ultimately third place was the best that we could achieve. It means Tom and I have an uphill task ahead of in Shanghai to wrestle the title from our team-mates but we go there with one goal in mind and that’s to win the race.”
McNish started the race third on the 27-car grid – Kristensen taking qualifying the previous day – with the pole-starting Toyota and “sister” Audi ahead on the front row.
The Scotsman snatched second at the first corner but Lotterer demoted McNish to third on 24mins, Allan resuming after a double stint by co-driver Kristensen still third.
McNish inherited the lead briefly when the leading Toyota made a scheduled pit-stop and then Tréluyer contacted a GT car necessitating an unscheduled pit-stop for a front nose replacement.
The McNish/Kristensen Audi moved up to second for a short spell when the Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer Audi was served a stop-go penalty for the earlier collision while front nose damage was incurred when the McNish Audi touched an LMP2 car.
The 661.72-mile race staged at the 2.84-mile Mount Fuji track near Tokyo marked the first race for the “factory” Audi Sport team in Japan. The Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer Audi finished 11.223secs behind the winners with the Audi R18 e-tron quattro of McNish/Kristensen a further 81.342secs adrift.
The Le Mans 24 Hour race winning hybrid diesel Audi is powered by a V6 turbo diesel engine delivering over 500hp via the rear wheels but benefits briefly from an extra near 200hp, transmitted through its front axle only above 75mph, at specific “zones” using power “harvested” under braking.
The final round of the WEC is staged in Shanghai, China, on Sunday 28 October.
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': 1st Audi*, 191pts. 2nd Toyota, 69pts (*Audi already Champions).