Q & A with Allan McNish

Audi seemed to be on the back foot as Peugeot dominated the Petit Le Mans build-up - but then the rain came and Allan McNish was able to take control of the race

Q & A with Allan McNish

Ultimately it slipped away from him with a spin under yellow, and then the storm that halted the race and denied him a chance to try and make amends. He told AUTOSPORT about the frustration of the evening and what Audi could still take from the event.

Q. Do you feel robbed of a chance to race for the win?

Allan McNish: Robbed is the wrong word. Certainly a bit deflated, because of obviously what happened, and then with the red coming out and not restarting. Okay that's the way it is, but I think there is certainly a bit of a numb feeling because we didn't get the chance to do anything about it.

Q. Bearing in mind what you thought your chances were before the start of the race, do you think had it played out that way, you would still be so disappointed now?

AM: It's very easy to do that, but when you are able to pull a lap lead in a stint and a half, then it changes your perspective and ambitions very quickly. By that point I knew we were in the fight, but I also knew the yellows would play against us because we had a lead, and they usually do. The first yellow definitely came at the right time for Peugeot because it was just at the point when I would have put both of them a lap down. However that is the way it is, it's gained for us at fortunate times in the past, so I can't complain that it goes against us at some point. Certainly I don't think that there's anybody apart from [Franck] Montagny and [Stephane] Sarrazin that go away feeling totally happy with the fact that we had a third of the race.

Q. If hadn't rained for the rest of the day you could have held them off?

AM: I knew that when it was wet and we obviously had the pace to try and do everything we could. I think it was very dependent on the temperature and whether it allowed either of our tyres to work or not. We were quick when it was dry. There were definite times when we were quick and they were quick. When it was light rain they were slow, but when it was very heavy rain then they were actually quite good. When it was drying we were very good, but then actually when it was dry it was only the Sarrazin/Montagny car that was quick. There were definite stages.

It was quite a changeable race because there were obviously a lot of periods where the conditions were fixed for a short period. But we would have given them a run for their money if it had stayed dry.

Q. Because it's the end of the season for you personally, do you feel you have been cheated out of a race?

AM: No I don't feel anything beyond tonight and this race. We came here with an objective, there was a separate agenda from my point of view which was to win, which we didn't quite achieve. But I think we had a pretty good showing and a better showing than we expected when you looked at qualifying. But Sebring is still in five months' time, so that is quite a long period away.

Q. Did Audi learn a lot from the race anyway?

AM: Yes. Even when we had the red flag, we were sitting down making a list of notes of things we observed, things we know we can improve on quickly and things that will take a little bit of time. That was part of the reason to come.

Q. Do you think you have learned more about setting up the car. There seemed times this weekend when you were a little bit lost.

AM: There were. I think we have got a bit more of an understanding of what it takes to get our car in the window. The funny thing about racing as opposed to testing is that in racing you have definitive points where you have got to be fast. We weren't always fast at that. However when we look back now we have got some very strong feelings as to why that was the case, and if this was a test then we probably wouldn't have done. So I do think from a pure 2010 point of view it was very worthwhile, and it gives us an idea where we are relative to Peugeot.

Q. Sarrazin says that Peugeot knows how to beat Audi now, so do you think Peugeot is now the team to beat?

AM: I think they have got the quickest car. That's quite clear. I don't think they necessarily know how to beat us, because in Le Mans we probably beat ourselves as much as anything else. Here after an hour they were nearly a lap down. So I wouldn't suggest they know how to beat us and I think it would have been tight to the end of the race whichever way. But I would say they are a very different team to the one they were 12 months ago, and they have improved and they are much tidier and neater in everything they do but you can see that there are still a few errors in the pits and things like that.

Q. On the two spins, how are you feeling about those now. Are you beating yourself up about them?

AM: The first one we lost tyre temperature behind the pace car. I wasn't trying to warm the tyres up or do anything, I just put the power down coming out and it just sort of looped around on me. It was a pivotal moment as it turned out to me. The second one was pure aquaplaning and it was at a point where 10 seconds later the Lola went off in Turn 12. In those circumstances you can do very little about it. Once it goes, it goes.

At the end of the day, it happened, it shouldn't have happened but it did and that's racing. I think that is probably the only way you can philosophise about it. But there is definitely an area we can learn from it.

McNish: Audi still boosted by Petit
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