Allan McNish will retire on top.
The Scotsman has announced he will leave LMP1 racing just shy of his 44th birthday, and after capturing this year’s Driver’s World Championship and overall victory at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans in the FIA World Endurance Championship.
“I found the ideal moment for myself to bring an end to my LMP sports-prototype racing with Audi,” McNish said in a statement. “Together with my teammates Tom Kristensen and Loïc Duval I finished my most successful season in the sports car. Having also won the Le Mans 24 Hours, I can’t wish for more than what we’ve achieved this year.
“I can look back on a fantastic career that has left no aims unfinished and I’m looking forward to new challenges the future holds for me. Now I’ll have a lot more time for my family. But I’m going to continue to be part of motorsport in various roles, albeit no longer as an Audi race driver.”
McNish is likely to continue with Audi Sport in a to-be-determined senior role. This news comes just before Audi’s official 2014 reveal of its new R18 e-tron quattro, and now it will mean a new driver lineup as the iconic McNish/Kristensen pairing has started its final race.
McNish’s American Le Mans Series and Audi career synced up beginning in 2000, and included P1 titles in 2006 and 2007 with Audi’s then all-conquering R10 TDI, the first diesel prototype Audi created. McNish added four victories at the 12 Hours of Sebring, and his win at Le Mans this year was his third at the endurance classic.
What eluded him was Daytona, as McNish took a class victory but never an overall triumph in the Rolex 24. In 11 years with Audi, and spanning the lifespan of the Audi R8R to the R8, R10 TDI, R15 TDI, R18 TDI models and the R18 ultra through to the R18 e-tron quattro, McNish took 29 overall victories, 18 pole positions, 17 fastest race laps and four title wins.
“We appreciate and respect Allan’s decision to retire at the pinnacle of his career,” said Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “At the same time, this is a parting that is particularly difficult for us. All of us are well aware of Allan’s racing successes. We should not forget, though, how valuable he has been in the development of our race cars, how great a team player he has always been and how he has consistently applied himself to achieve Audi’s aims far beyond motorsport with professionalism, loyalty and commitment. ‘
“We regret that Allan will no longer be contesting any races for us but are happy that he will continue to be associated with Audi Sport and the Audi brand.”
Chris Reinke, Project Manager LMP at Audi Sport, added: “Of course, we’re going to miss Allan in our driver line-up extremely. But it’s typical of Allan that he’s also found a perfect point in time to end his career.”
Sportscar365 will have more to come.