Tuesday, September 11, 2012

McNish & Audi: A Strong Brazilian Blend for Sao Paulo Race

Allan McNish Press Release

Allan McNish aims to re-take the FIA World Endurance Championship lead when the Scotsman races in South America for only the second time in his 30-year motorsport career on Saturday (15 Sep).

Despite scoring a win plus second, third and fourth placings, the Dumfries-born driver will start the São Paulo Six Hours second in the title race.

McNish and regular co-driver Tom Kristensen (Den) are joined for a one-off race by Brazilian Lucas di Grassi in their diesel-engined Audi R18 ultra while Marcel Fässler (CH)/André Lotterer (D)/Benoît Tréluyer (F) who, by winning the last race at Silverstone, leapfrogged McNish and Kristensen in the standings by 4.5pts, drive the R18 e-tron quattro.

“The Championship has swung again,” confirms McNish. “Tom, Dindo and myself led it after winning the opening Sebring race, dropped to second after Spa, led after Le Mans and now find ourselves back in second after Silverstone, so my objective is crystal clear – to re-take the series lead.”

McNish has only once previously raced in Brazil, contesting the 2002 Formula One Grand Prix at the 2.676-mile Autódromo de Interlagos track which opened in 1940. Allan was also the Friday “test driver” at the F1 GP the following year while nowadays the circuit it is also known as the Autódromo José Carlos Pace and is located 13-miles from São Paulo.

Allan continued: “I really enjoy Brazil, it is a fantastically alive place to be, especially in racing and this year I think the circuit will be pretty busy with local boy Lucas [di Grassi] joining our car for this event.

“The track itself unusually runs in an anti-clockwise direction, is pretty difficult and is quite technical. It’s an old style, undulating circuit featuring some very fast sections but there is also a fiddly little infield.

“At this time of the year it should be quite hot so it will be important to make the correct tyre choices.”

In the opening four WEC races, the hybrid diesel R18 e-tron quattro has won twice (Le Mans & Silverstone) compared to the conventional V6 turbocharged diesel engine of the McNish/Kristensen R18 ultra.

“I expect the infield section to favour the e-tron quattro with its power boost and the four-wheel-drive aspect exiting the hairpins,” continued McNish who hopes to emulate the success of fellow Scot David Coulthard who won at Interlagos in 2001.

“There are some areas, however, that I believe will benefit our ultra, so it could be quite a close contest between the two Audi technologies.

“But it’s not just a case of Tom & I looking over our shoulders at our ‘sister” Audi. We must keep an eye on Toyota because their performance at Silverstone proved that they have learned a lot since Le Mans.

“Their Le Mans speed was not a surprise but their speed at Silverstone was definitely a step forward and they are going to be a challenge to us.”
The São Paulo Six Hours marks the first foray in Brazil for a “factory” Audi team since Michèle Mouton (F) won the 1982 Rallye do Brasil, a round of the FIA World Rally Championship (11-14 August) in an Audi quattro.

Practice begins on Thursday (1500-1630 & 1930-2100*) with qualifying for the anticipated near 30-car entry on Friday (1830-1850*). The race begins at 1600* on Saturday (15 Sep).