What do you say when one of the greatest drivers of his generation in your branch of the sport phones to say he is retiring? I wouldn't have been able to answer that question earlier in the week, but now I know. "Thank you" and "well done" were the words I said to Allan McNish when he dropped his bombshell yesterday afternoon.
That's "thank you" for all the amazing drives that I have witnessed down the years, and for being so open - a journalist's dream in fact. And "well done" for a bloody great career and knowing when to call it quits, surely the mark of a great sportsman.
When McNish says that the stars have aligned to make this the perfect time to retire, he's absolutely right. He is going out at the top as a world champion and when there's a new era starting in 2014 with a new breed of LMP1 machine. It's a perfect time for a clean break.
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Gary Watkins has, for reasons best known to himself, devoted all his working life to covering sportscar racing. This season is his 25th as a motorsport journalist, during which time he has reported on major long-distance events on four continents and approaching 60 24-hour races. He reckons a degree in political philosophy makes him well qualified for covering the sometimes Machiavellian world of international sportscars.
Gary, who also writes for RACER, Autoweek, Motor Sport, Autocourse and others, lives in Surbiton but spends more time on the road than at home for most of the year.