Death overshadows Le Mansposted in LMANS22 | 06 | 2013

    SCOT ALLAN McNISH'S bid to win his third Le Mans 24-Hours was overshadowed by the death of Aston Martin driver Allan Simonsen.

    The Dane crashed his GTE Pro car heavily into the armco at the Tetre Rouge corner just 10 minutes into the 90th anniversary running of the famous French endurance race.

    Such was the impact that it took more than an hour for repairs to be made to the amrco, and during that time the 55 remaining cars circulated behind the safety car.

    McNish, the 43-year-old from Dumfries, adopted a fuel-saving strategy through his opening three-and-a-half hour stint.

    The Scot, who started the race from pole position in his No2 hybrid-diesel Audi R18 e-tron quattro, quickly conceded the lead to his team-mate Andre Lotterer.

    The German, driving the 'sister' car which has won from pole in the last two years, committed to using a more aggressive, strategy.

    As darkness began to fall over the 8-45-mile French circuit, Lotterer led the Scot by 47secs. McNish though had backed off to ensure his car, compared to that of Lotterer's, could complete one more lap of the 8.45-mile course on one tank of fuel. The strategy would save him around 26s on his team-mate with each tank.

    "We've certainly got everything in place to win this weekend," McNish, partnered by Dane Tom Kristensen and Frenchman Loic Duval, said today before jumping into his Audi in front of the 250,000 fans crammed round the circuit.

    "Any 24 hours race is tough, and this one will be no exception. It's crucial we minimise our mistakes, and if we do that, the win is definitely a possibility."

    The Aston Martin of Kirkcaldy's Peter Dumbreck, a team-mate of Simonsen's, headed into the night leading the GTE Pro class by 11s. 

    Bathgate's Marino Franchitti, whose Level 5 Honda struggled with handling problems in the build-up to the race, was fifth in LMP2.

    And there was an early scare for Oban's Jamie Campbell-Walter. The Scot ran wide on the exit of a fast left-hander and ran all four wheel on to the grass.

    Somehow he managed to gather control of the car, missing the crash barrier by no more than six inches, then had the coolness to steer round the gravel trap and rejoin the circuit.

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    Jim McGill


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