Britain’s Allan McNish will not defend his world sportscar title or bid for a fourth 24 Hours of Le Mans race victory next year after deciding to conclude his sports-prototype racing career.
McNish won the 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship after scoring three wins, three second and one third placing in the eight race series in his hybrid-diesel Audi.
Dumfries-born McNish steps down from a race driving role with Audi Sport with immediate effect but will comprehensively assist the factory team that has won Le Mans 12 times since 1999 in various roles next year.
“I’ve had fantastically successful time with Audi and feel it’s the right time to step back from Le Mans sports-prototype racing and to look at other opportunities,” commented McNish. “As a racing driver it’s important to stop [racing] at the right time when I’m still fast and capable of doing the job and the timing feels right after winning Le Mans for a third time this year and claiming the World title.
“This year especially was mega successful, teaming up with Loïc [Duval] for the first time and obviously with long-time co-driver Tom [Kristensen]. We’ve ticked all of the boxes and I ticked my personal ones too but now the time is right to hand over to the young guys. I’ve won the championships and races I wanted to win and frankly there’s no better way to end my Audi sportscar race career than going out as a World Champion.
“My fellow Scot and mentor Jackie Stewart knew when to get into things but also knew when to get out and he has taught me that lesson.”
McNish has contested 89 races since making his Audi sportscar debut in 2000 scoring 66 top-three “podiums” – including 29 outright race wins – for factory or customer Audi teams that also netted three American Le Mans Series titles.
“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.”
Heralded as one of the world’s greatest sportscar drivers in recent years, Monaco-based McNish won the Le Mans 24 Hour races in 1998, 2008 and this year – scoring a further six top-three podiums in his 14 attempts in the legendary French marathon.
He won the North American-based American Le Mans Series sportscar endurance title in 2000 – his debut season with Audi – and again in 2006 and 2007. Other notable victories include four wins in both the Sebring 12 Hours and Petit Le Mans races plus second place in the Daytona 24 Hours on three occasions.
“I joined [Audi] in 2000 and immediately found that we each worked in the same way: you either won or lost. If we lost, then we solved the problem,” McNish said. “Over the years I won three American Le Mans Series titles, four race wins at Sebring and at Petit Le Mans, scored two wins of my three Le Mans wins with Audi and have now won the World title.
“My success is not just down to me but comes as a result of a huge effort by Audi Sport who gave me the tools and my co-drivers to do the job right. There are some great new drivers coming through and they need an opportunity just like I did. I’m looking forward to being part of Audi Sport in the future to ensure that these young drivers have the same level of fun and success that I have enjoyed over the years.
“I celebrate my 44th birthday later this month and I’ve only ever been involved in racing to win. Winning is the sole reason I went racing and the investment of time, energy, mental and physical attention plus the sacrifices for my family can now be adjusted.”
McNish’s 33-year motor racing career has netted almost 80 wins – more than 125 top-three podiums – and began in karting, winning three British and six Scottish championship titles between 1982-86, finishing third in the World Championship in 1985.
He won the 1988 Formula Vauxhall Lotus Championship and finished second in the 1989 British Formula Three Championship by a mere three points.
In Formula One, McNish had testing contracts with McLaren and Benetton (1990-96), Toyota (2000-02) – including a full F1 World Championship race season in 2002 – and Renault (2003).
McNish is a former winner of the Royal Automobile Club’s Segrave and Tourist Trophies while other awards include the British Racing Drivers’ Club’s ACO Plate (seven times), BRDC Silverstone-Le Mans Challenge (twice), Scottish Motor Racing Club’s Callands Trophy (twice), SMRC William Lyons Trophy (five times), SMRC John Romanes “Swift” Trophy (twice), SMRC Stewart Medal and SMRC Ecurie Ecosse “Hub Cap”. Allan, who celebrates his 44th birthday later this month (29 Dec), has been Honorary President of the Scottish Motor Racing Club since December 2007.