/ Motorsport

Allan McNish claims third win in Le Mans 24 Hours

Updated: Monday, 24 Jun 2013 10:56 | Comments

Allan McNish celebrates victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours
Allan McNish celebrates victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours

Britain's Allan McNish revelled in the luxury of a "perfect run from start to finish" as he claimed his third victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours yesterday.

Dumfries-born McNish completed a personal hat-trick at La Sarthe as the Audi driver took the chequered flag alongside Tom Kristensen and Loic Duval.

"I'm overjoyed - speechless - it's a fantastic result," said McNish.

"The only problem we had was one puncture, apart from that it was a perfect run from start to finish and you don't get many of those at Le Mans."

The battle for victory between the three factory Audis and two works Toyotas played out against the dramatic backdrop of a record 11 safety car periods and a rash of heavy downpours.

McNish was a frustrated observer as Kristensen anchored the car home in the closing hours, and a late heavy downpour did little to calm his mood back in the garage.

"The final 75 minutes were so nerve-wracking," he said.

"A lap advantage may have looked secure but it wasn't, the win was still up for grabs. Even with our radar it was still difficult to predict what the weather was going to do. I've never lived through anything like it."

McNish's co-driver Duval took the lead with almost seven hours gone when the leading Audi of Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler - winners here in 2011 and 2012 - pitted for an alternator change, which took 43 minutes and cost 12 laps.

The McNish/Duval/ Kristensen Audi held the lead from that moment until the chequered flag, but the win was overshadowed by the death of Danish GT driver Allan Simonsen just nine minutes into the race on Saturday.

McNish's team-mate Kristensen, who increased his record tally of Le Mans wins to nine yesterday, dedicated his latest success to his fellow Dane.

"This is a dream come true, winning the toughest and fastest race in the world," said Kristensen.

"But we lost somebody yesterday who had the same dream as well and was an absolutely humble and nice guy, so it's mixed feelings."

McNish added that the loss of Simonsen had hit all of the drivers hard.

"It's a close community and each driver in a way is like your brother because you share of the same feelings and emotions," he told Press Association Sport.

"It was a tragic loss, an absolutely tragic loss of someone who has so much talent and was so young."

Simonsen, 34, died when his Aston Martin came off the track through the Tetre Rouge corner and hit the barriers at high speed.

Britain's Anthony Davidson, who was part of the Toyota line-up that finished in second place, admitted the lap-four accident had affected him.

Davidson suffered a huge accident at this race 12 months ago, flipping his car after contact with a backmarker and suffering two broken vertebrae.

He said: "The hardest thing was to carry on driving after we all heard the news about Allan Simonsen.

"I knew something was wrong at the time. It didn't seem right. And after I'd heard the news it was really hard, especially given what happened to me last year, to carry on driving.

"When you passed the scene of the crash every single time, and you had rain there sometimes as well, you realise that it can happen to anyone. That was a really tough moment for all of us - to carry on driving, to carry on pushing in those conditions."

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