One of the biggest sports car racing stories of the year broke Tuesday when Allan McNish announced his retirement from top-level prototype racing.
The 43-year-old Scot, who won this year’s FIA World Endurance Championship with Audi Sport Team Joest, completes a successful 32-year career that’s also included three overall victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, four wins at the Twelve Hours of Sebring and Petit Le Mans, as well as three American Le Mans Series titles.
“I think all of the boxes are ticked,” McNish said. “I’ve won all the championships and all the races I wanted to win. I’ve done all the things I wanted to do. There’s nothing better than going out as a World Champion.
“Jackie Stewart, a fellow Scot, who mentored my career, nearly all the way through, Jackie knew when to get into things. But he also knew the right time to get out. He’s taught me that lesson, as well as a few others.”
McNish could be considered the most successful sports car racing driver of this era, having put in some of the most impressive performances over the years.
With a World Championship title eluding him until this year, when he and co-drivers Tom Kristensen and Loic Duval locked it up in the penultimate FIA WEC round of the season in Shanghai, McNish felt the timing was right for him to hang up the helmet.
“There’s many reasons why drivers decide to step back a little bit,” McNish said. “Certainty from my point of view, it’s been very clearly stated many occasions that I wanted to go out while still at the top.
“There’s [also] simple facts of life. I’m getting on in years. I’m 44 at the end of 2013. You can still perform but ultimately, I’m only been involved in racing to win. To win is the reason we do go racing.
“I’ve had a long, long career, one that’s heralded a lot of wins and success. I’m very proud of it all, the good and bad days. On that side of things, I think the opportunities that have come along in the last 12 to 24 months.
“The timing of the new car regulations, the timing of Audi Sport building up for the future… It is definitely the right time to hand over the steering wheel to the successors, the new generation of Audi Sport drivers who are coming through.”
McNish joins fellow Scot Dario Franchitti in calling time on their professional racing careers in 2013. Franchitti’s decision, though, was influenced by doctors’ advice following an accident in the Grand Prix of Houston IndyCar race in October.
Audi’s two other World Championship winning co-drivers from this year, nine-time Le Mans winner Kristensen and Frenchman Duval, are expected to defend the title in 2014.
The German manufacturer will official unveil its new R18 e-tron quattro in Germany tomorrow.