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McNish expects stronger race pace

Allan McNish, Audi, Petit Le Mans 2009Allan McNish says he is happy with the progress of Audi's R15 TDI, though he admitted to being disappointed to be 1.2s off the pace of the pole-sitting Peugeot in qualifying for this weekend's Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.

Audi appeared to have steadily closed the gap to the French 908 HDi FAPs through practice, only for the coupe diesels to produce a stunning low fuel performance in qualifying, ensuring the two Audis could do no better than the second row.

"I was surprised to see that the gap was 1.2s in qualifying," said McNish. "But as we have seen before, qualifying pace is one thing and racing is another. On the other hand, I think the Peugeot is very strong anyway.

"To be honest we are quite happy with our car," he added. "The 1m07.8s time we set in practice was set with quite high fuel and used tyres, so we know there is more in the car.

"The car felt okay but we weren't able to replicate that time in qualifying and we are disappointed we weren't able to replicate that time in qualifying."

Despite an apparent performance deficit to the Peugeots, McNish vowed to battle hard in the race.

"It's going to be a big fight," said the Scot, whose tenacious final stint in last year's event helped him score a famous win alongside Rinaldo Capello and Emanuele Pirro despite a pre-race crash.

"The weather forecast is for rain which will be another aspect and to some extent cancel out what has been learnt over the past few days.

"Peugeot have an advantage in one-lap qualifying trim but we proved that we can be close to them in the race."

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