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MCNISH: Bahrain Debrief

Allan McNish files his final Sportscar365 column of the year…

Photo: Audi

Photo: Audi

We really wanted to sign off on a high note and go out and fight to win. We knew it was going to be a Toyota track but we were going after them, strategy wise.

Through qualifying, all of the mechanics and engineers, thought we were there. We fixed the problem we had in Fuji and China with the car, which we found here. That put us into a competitive mode.

Suddenly it was looking good, being only 15 seconds off the lead then. We were closing in, then hey presto, it goes away.

But it’s racing. It’s not happened to me very many times in my Audi career. I think I’ve had four reliability issues that have caused a stoppage of a race, which is a fantastic record overall with the number of races I’ve done for Audi.

I can’t complain because that reliability has given me a lot of wins. In fact, that’s given us the championship this year. But I have to say that it was a slightly disappointing way to finish the season.

We knew Bahrain was going to be a tough circuit for us. Toyota should have won it last year.

The circuit has a lot of very slow corners that’s not ideally suited to Audi. Those characteristics have never suited us. It wasn’t with the R8, or the R10, R15 or R18, so there was no reason why it definitely would be suddenly different this weekend.

However, we improved a lot, especially with the way we worked with the car. With the championship settled, we felt that we could just go out and attack. Therefore, my mindset was very much on going after it.

Tom made a very good start. He hadn’t started a race this year. That was the reason he was going to start. And Loic hadn’t finished, so he was going to finish the race. That’s why I was supposed to go in third.

We were comfortable with the plan and set everything up around that. It was about maximizing our race strategy without any thoughts of anything else. Everybody was in full attack mode, even our sister car, which also didn’t have anything to lose.

It was looking very good for us until Loic stopped on track with a mechanical issue with slightly less than half of the race complete.

While it was no doubt a disappointing end to the season, we have to look back at what we achieved.

There’s no question about it, to know that it’s done and dusted and that you are World Champions and can put that on your CV… It’s what you fought for all year.

We’ve had first and second place finishes in every race apart from the last two.

But it’s about how we did it, the way we went about the whole thing from the start to the finish. We had a lot of consistency from the engineering staff this year, that we didn’t have last year.

We put everything that we didn’t feel was right for last year, perfect for 2013. That’s the thing that will please me more when I look back on the year over Christmas, not what we did but the way we did it.

It will be a new era next year, there’s no question about it. But there’s lots of new eras and it’s just the next step in the world of sports cars and how they’re going to develop in the next few years.

I think there’s a lot of things that will change from it. But what won’t change is the fact that there’s going to be some stiff competition up and down the grid.

Allan McNish (@allanmcnish) is a three-time Le Mans winner and 2013 FIA World Endurance champion, driving for Audi Sport Team Joest. The rapid Scot is also a former American Le Mans Series champion.

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