Britain’s Allan McNish has a double incentive to sign off from his 2010 season in winning style in China on Sunday (7 Nov).
The 40-year-old Dumfries ace contests a 1,000km race at Zhuhai driving an Audi R15 TDI sports-prototype for a final time – the Scotsman scoring a début race win in the original R15 TDI’s first race in March 2009.
Meanwhile after a non-finish at Silverstone in September and a third place in the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in the opening two rounds of the inaugural Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, the Audi Sport “factory” driver is determined to finish his racing year on a high note.
Allan commented: “The race will be demanding and very competitive as both Audi and Peugeot will want to sign off this current year of sports car racing with another victory.
“I’m certainly hungry for a second win of the season. I got pole-position at Silverstone, the first for the R15 TDI, but suffered what I believe was my first and only ‘mechanical’ retirement in seven years of racing with Audi when a differential problem sidelined me.
“We led the Petit Le Mans race until Dindo [Capello] had a bizarre problem with his crash helmet which dropped us off the lead lap and caused us to ultimately finish third so all of the ingredients are there for a hectic fight.”
Zhuhai marks the ninth race for the diesel-powered Audi R15 TDI. McNish and Capello earned the latest R15 TDI “plus” variant a win at Paul Ricard in April prior to the Anglo-Italian pairing, along with Tom Kristensen (Den), finishing third in this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours – a race won in June by Timo Bernhard (D), Romain Dumas (F) and Mike Rockenfeller (D) to earn the R15 TDI its third “career” win.
“Tom, Dindo and I gave the R15 TDI a début victory so it would be really nice to actually sign the car off with another victory – just like I did with the petrol-engined Audi R8,” added McNish.
“We know it is going to be tough but we have got the desire and the pace and if we do the strategy right we can do it.”
The 2.7-mile, 14-corner Zhuhai International Circuit is located at Jin Ding town in Zhuhai City. Motorsport started in Zhuhai when it hosted a race on its street circuit in 1993, racing continued until 1996 when the current circuit was constructed and became China’s first permanent motor race track.
Allan continued: “I have never previously been to China and had never heard of Zhuhai until a few years ago. It’s a short ferry ride across from Hong Kong and is also close to Macau.
“The circuit will be new to the vast majority of drivers and there won’t be much track time prior to the race but I can normally learn a new venue quickly.
“I have always liked going to new countries and new circuits. It’s good to be sportscar racing in Asia and for me, it’s the start of a new ‘World Sportscar Championship’. Although the 2010 ILMC is only three events, next year’s provisional calendar looks very exciting with three races in Europe, two races in North America plus Japan and Zhuhai again.”
McNish will share his Audi Sport Team Joest R15 TDI with Kristensen while Capello teams up with Dumas in the Chinese race.