Scots racer Allan McNish continued his preparation for this weekend’s Le Mans 24-Hours race by clocking the fourth-fastest time in pre-qualifying.
Piloting his diesel-powered Audi R10TDI, the 38-year-old from Dumfries lapped the 8.47-mile French circuit in 3min 24.105secs. But the Scot believes he can go a whole lot quicker.
“We’re just getting the car settled the way we want it for the race,” McNish, who won the French endurance classic for Porsche 10 years ago, admitted today. “Our time is quite a bit ahead of where we were last year, so we’ve definitely improved the car.”
And though McNish was outpaced by the Peugeot of provisional polesitter Stéphane Sarrazin, who set a best time of 3:18.513secs, the Scot believes Audi’s race strategy and pitstops could hold the key to victory.
“Our guys are generally very good at pitstops, so that should give us an edge,” he continued, “and when it comes to race pace rather than qualifying, we should be well placed.”
And McNish also paid tribute to Ove Andersson, the man who gave him his chance in Formula One with Toyota. The 70-year-old Swede was killed in a car crash during a classic car rally in South Africa earlier this week.
“He was the man behind getting me in an F1 car,” McNish continued, “and I owe him a huge debt. We’d also worked together in Toyota’s sportscar programme doing Le Mans, so he was a big part of my early racing career.
“He was very good at identifying racers who deserved their chance at the highest level, and then supporting them right through. There aren’t many people like him and motorsport is a poorer place without him.”