An Interview with Allan McNish

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Editor’s Note: Our good friends at TetreRougeTimes.com had the chance to catch up with Audi team driver Allan McNish recently and talk about the 2009 24 Hours of Le Mans as well as a host of topics from his racing heroes growing up to his taste in music.

TRT: Let’s talk about the 24 hours of Le Mans. Last year (2008) was a pretty emotional victory and so was the race at Sebring this year – are those your favorite wins? If not, which one is?

Allan: I think, in terms of wins in my career, thankfully I have had quite a few, and every one has been quite special for one reason or another. Though obviously there’s some that are a little bit more so, usually because of a tight battle. You know when you go off into the distance and you win quite easy, it is memorable, because you dominated, because you obviously were significantly better than the rest. I think at Sebring, and Le Mans in 08, then we had to perform at our maximum to actually achieve.

I personally would say Le Mans will be the one that was remembered because it is the bigger race, but my last two stints at Sebring I think were actually some of the best laps I have ever turned, because it was right at the end of a 12 hour race, and there was no way that I could win it, unless I drove every lap like it was a qualifying lap. When you add the traffic and everything else, I thought I did a pretty clean run of it. So from a purely personal point of view, I did enjoy the satisfaction of that Sebring win. However, Le Mans is Le Mans. In terms of my best Le Mans memory, well if you want to narrow it right down, the first time I stood on the podium in 1998, because the pressure we were under there was unbelievable. It was very, very different pressure then the way things are with Audi, there were a lot of question marks on if the program was going to continue if we didn’t get success at Le Mans, so from that side there were a tremendous amount of things riding on it.

And it was obviously the first one, but because I waited 10 ten years for the second one. Every time in between we had led, and it had all gone away from us at one point or another, especially in 2007. It’s that moment, more the moment of standing on the podium after it is done, because everything else is just a little too nail-biting for me. That moment of standing on the podium, I was able to relax, I was able to take it in a little bit, and just absorb it and realize what we had done, more then I think what I did in 98.
Allan: It is easy to look at that from the outside. I think Sebring was a little bit surprising to us, because we didn’t have any real technical failures on either car, because it was a brand new car, with a new engine. Ok still diesel, but it was a V10 instead of a V12 so it was a completely different engine philosophy. I personally was surprised, I thought that we would have something go wrong somewhere, but it wasn’t the car ran flawlessly. It was kind of the opposite of Le Mans, because at Le Mans, we had quite a few things that went wrong.

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