Dumfries racer Allan McNish beat off opposition from newly-crowned Formula One World Champ Lewis Hamilton to lift the British Competition Driver award at the Autosport Awards in London.
But the 38-year-old — who won the Le Mans 24-Hours for the second time in his career, and who also pipped fellow Scot, German Touring Car ace Paul Di Resta to the prestigious trophy — admitted to being surprised to pick up the award.
“Considering what Lewis has achieved this year, to have someone else winning this award is a big achievement,” McNish, who also drove his diesel-powered Audi R10 TDI to victory in the Petit Le Mans in the States for the fourth time, said.
“Looking at Le Mans this year, it’s the hardest I’ve ever driven; battling with Peugeot for 23 and a half hours was intense. And after last year when we had it in the bag, and had the wheel come off during the race, it was pretty special.”
And McNish confirmed he will remain with Audi for the 2009 season despite the German manufacturer deciding to quit the American Le Mans Series and contest only the Le Mans 24-Hours in France, plus the Sebring endurance race in the States.
“Two races is clearly not ideal,” McNish, the president of the Scottish Motor Racing Club, continued, “but these are difficult times and you can’t bury your head in the sand. By taking steps now, Audi is lessening the long-term impact.
“It’s one of the lesser-hit manufacturers around just now, in fact. Yes, things are hard but it is not as bad as the 1000 or so people who are going to lose their jobs at Honda.”