Sportscar racer Allan McNish has become Scotland’s latest world champion after winning the FIA World Endurance Championship in Shanghai.
The 43-year-old from Dumfries – who claimed three victories, including the Le Mans 24-Hours in June, and three second places in the opening six races – started yesterday’s penultimate round in China with a near unsurmountable 40-point lead. And in a controlled and measured performance, the Scot – partnered by co-drivers Tom Kristensen of Denmark and Frenchman Loïc Duval — powered his Audi R18 e-tron quattro hybrid home to third place.
“This is absolutely fantastic,” McNish, Scotland’s first motorsport world champion since Colin McRae lifted the world rally title in 1995, said. “I’ve got a massive big warm feeling inside.
“I’ve been waiting to win a world championship since 1985. I’ve had three cracks at a world title. In karting I finished third at Le Mans, behind Michael Schumacher – that hurt because it was very close, but no cigar. Then, in Formula One with Toyota, there wasn’t really an opportunity, so it’s third time lucky.”
McNish, also a three-times winner at Le Mans, started the Six Hours of Shanghai, on the 3.39-mile F1 Chinese Grand Prix circuit, from fourth on the grid. He quickly realised he was on the wrong compound of Michelin tyres for the opening 93-minute stint yet managed to remain fourth in the 28-car field.
With his team-mates handling the next two stints, it was left to McNish – with a Hunting MacInnes tartan band round his race helmet – to bring the car home over the final 75 minutes, taking the chequered flag in third to seal the title.
“It’s great to finish on the podium and clinch the title,” McNish admitted. “Sure, it would have been nice to have won the race, but dropping 40secs in the opening stint with the tyre glitch cost us the win.
“But I’m massively proud of what we have accomplished this year. We came out the blocks fighting in the opening race at Silverstone, and went on to also win at Le Mans and in Texas. We had a terrific run at the Circuit of the Americas, where we got that last win, and I think that was a big turning point for us.
“It was that important result which allowed us to come here today and drive a conservative race, but I’m out to finish the season off in style in Bahrain at the end of the month.”
Yesterday’s Shanghai race was won in dramatic style by McNish’s Audi team-mate team-mates, Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler.