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MCNISH: Sao Paulo Debrief

Audi’s Allan McNish files his first WEC post-race column for Sportscar365…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

I always enjoy coming to Brazil because it’s kind of a step back in time, in some respects.

It’s an old style circuit and reminds me of quite a few of the tracks in the States, actually, because it hasn’t been doctored by the safety fanatics. There’s no extra chicanes put in the corners you really love.

On that side of things, I quite enjoy the track. And I quite enjoy that there’s just that edge around about it. There’s a passion and you can see it with all of the fans that have turned up. They’re all mad for motorsport.

From our point of view, we came here with two jobs. One of them was to try and win the race and the other one was having a quarter-eye on what the opposition, Toyota, would do.

We worked really hard over the winter to try to peg back the gains they had made on this type of circuit, where we honestly, last year kind of struggled. I think we basically did that pretty well.

It was the first time we saw their 2013 high-downforce car, so it was nice to get the confirmation of what we had done in our December tests and at Sebring, etc had actually worked to the extent that we need.

Coming through with Loic, we had to remember that he had not been here before, so he required a bit of time in the car. And we had some problems on Friday, so my personal time was restricted.

I did a little bit of a longer run on Saturday morning. The decision was made for Loic and Tom to qualify and I was going to start.

They did a good job in qualifying. A bit frustrating, because to be honest with you, I think we should have had pole. We had the speed, the sector times, everything to be able to achieve it. But it wasn’t there. The sister car nicked it by five-hundredths of a second. That’s pretty disappointing… A bloody inch over four laps!

Therefore, it was important to get a good, clean run at the start, and to also make sure the Toyota stayed back in third. Because if they jumped up into second, we were going to have a bigger fight on our hands because strategy wise, we reckoned they would be one pit stop less than us over the course of the race.

The start was a bit odd because the lights weren’t on. But when you get to the line, you kind of got to go! I got a jump on Marcel and managed to pull out a gap quite comfortably at the first stint. I was feeling confident to be bringing that into the second stint but unfortunately because of the safety car, because of the Toyota incident, that obviously pegged that back.

I sat behind the safety car and was in for a double stint. But that got changed with how long the safety car lasted. Tom got in the car and had a difficult time with a car going slow on his out lap and that put us back to second.

Later, Loic got in and was doing a really good job in catching back. As you know, he’s a very kind guy, because when there was there a tire stop and there was a problem, he doesn’t just leave things on the track, he brings them back to the pits!

I’ve never had a teammate that has thought so much about the rest of his team and is so tidy! Usually drivers are messy, they drop things everywhere. But Loic just carried it all and politely gave it back to the mechanics, which was superb!

To be honest, after that, we were just making it to the end. After the penalties, we were just seeing what we could do.

My last stint, I just ran to the end and picked up the points for second.

I was frustrated because I think we had the car, the drivers and everything to win the race. That was my objective going around the outside of Turn 1 and it was my objective all the way through. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out for us this time.

We’re off to COTA next, an event I’m looking forward to a lot.

Everybody I’ve spoken to that’s raced there, whether it’d be on a bike or Formula One or GRAND-AM, is just enthused about the place.

All of the people involved in the sport want to go to COTA and I think that’s the biggest positive sign that the circuit could have.

I’m definitely looking forward to getting our car onto that track.

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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