McNish: New Audi can win Le Mans

Allan McNish says Audi can repeat their Le Mans 24 Hours victory with the new R15 TDI diesel-powered prototype next year, despite only having one build-up race to prepare the car for sportscar racing's blue riband event in June

Audi has decided not to continue with its Le Mans Series and American Le Mans Series programmes in 2009 and will instead only enter the Sebring 12 Hours in March and the 24 Hours at La Sarthe.

And while rivals Peugeot enjoyed a performance advantage over Audi at Le Mans in 2008, and will be even more determined to win their home event after being defeated by the German manufacturer this year, McNish is convinced that the R15 TDI will be fast and reliable enough to compete.

"I haven't driven the car, but the reason I think we can win is because Audi have never, in my experience, done anything by half," said McNish.

"When they compete, they race with a car that is already proven in reliability and performance gain. And as much as we have got some regulation changes which are going to make it very difficult, with regards to the petrol engines and things like that, we are going to make a step forward.

"Looking at Peugeot we are going to have to make a big step forward because they had an advantage.

"But we beat them on the human terms this year and we will have to beat them on the car terms as well because they won't make that same mistake twice."

McNish, who scored his second Le Mans 24 Hours victory last summer, admitted that he was naturally disappointed not to be racing more in 2009, but added that he didn't think it would have any impact on Audi's competitiveness at Sebring and Le Mans.

"At the moment it's just two races," said McNish. "We unfortunately confirmed that the Le Mans Series and the American Le Mans Series were not going to happen which was a surprise.

"But the one thing I would say is that there is still a very strong motorsport bloodline at Audi and that commitment and support is still there, it's just that it's on a leaner level than it has been lately.

"We'll still be at the two biggest sportscar races though and it's with the new car, so we'll come out fighting."

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