Allan McNish aims to put Audi on top of the world when the Scottish race ace contests the entire Intercontinental Le Mans Cup this year.

Audi “factory” driver McNish will contest all seven rounds of the prestigious new series which visits North America, Asia as well as Europe. McNish’s busy race programme roars into action when he competes in the Sebring 12 Hours and only concludes in November.

The 41-year-old from Dumfries will team-up with regular co-drivers Tom Kristensen (Denmark) and Dindo Capello (Italy) with Audi’s 2010 Le Mans 24 Hour race winning line-up of Timo Bernhard (France)/Romain Dumas (France)/Mike Rockenfeller (Germany). 

“2011 is going to be a busy season, starting off in mid-March with the 12 hours of Sebring and finally concluding at the end of November in China,” confirmed McNish.

“The calendar of Sebring, Spa, Le Mans, Imola, Silverstone, Petit Le Mans, Road Atlanta and then China is essentially a season of the very best sportscar races in one championship which is tremendously exciting.”

Audi aims to continue its string of victories at the Le Mans 24 Hours, a race also part of the new ILMC, with a completely new LMP1 sports car. Since its début in 1999, the German manufacturer has won the world’s most important endurance race nine times with its R8, R10 TDI and R15 TDI sports-prototypes.

The opening ILMC Sebring race sees Audi using a brace of R15 TDI sports-prototypes modified to comply with new regulations but from the second round in Belgium and the rest of the year, Audi Sport Team Joest will race the new Audi R18 which has been accumulating test mileage in the USA.

The Audi R18 is powered by a 3.7-liter V6 TDI engine with a new six-speed transmission in the R18 which has been specifically modified for use with the smaller engine necessitated by rule changes.

Allan added: “I am very much looking forward to racing the R18 having tested it before Christmas and again this month.  It is a ‘closed’ car, as opposed to the ‘open top’ R8, R10 TDI and R15 TDI sportscars that I’ve raced for Audi since 2000.

“It’s also right-hand-drive which is another departure as all previous Audi sports-prototypes  have been left-hand-drive. The R18 features a much smaller engine which is regulation driven, a 3.7 litre V6 turbo diesel, so from that side it is quite different from the 5.5 litre V10 we had before but still using the same pioneering Audi TDI technology.

“Audi Sport has produced a car that will give us the efficient but fast running that we require to win the Le Mans 24 Hours and the Intercontinental Cup.”

For the Spa and Le Mans races, Audi enters three Audi R18 sportscars for McNish/Kristensen/Capello, Bernhard/Dumas/Rockenfeller and Marcel Fässler (Switzerland)/André Lotterer (Germany)/Benoît Treluyer (France). For the remaining ILMC races, McNish and Kristensen partner each other with a third driver a possibility for Petit Le Mans.

2011 Intercontinental Le Mans Cup
Sebring 12 Hours, USA – 19 March
Spa-Francorchamps 6 Hours, Belgium – 8 May
Le Mans 24 Hours, France – 11-12 June
Imola 6 Hours, Italy – 3 July
Silverstone 6 Hours, England – 11 September
Petit Le Mans 1,000m, USA – 1 October
TBA, China – 12 November