Champion Scot to continue racing involvement | By Gary Watkins
Allan McNish looks set to take a front-line sporting position with Audi Sport in the wake of his retirement from the cockpit.
McNish, who won the 2013 World Endurance Championship with Tom Kristensen and Loïc Duval, announced that he was hanging up his helmet at the end of December, but both Audi Sport boss Wolfgang Ullrich and the 44-year-old Scot have hinted that he will have much more than an ambassadorial role with the German manufacturer in the future.
“We have ended up with something that will keep us together,” Ullrich said. “For sure it is positive for Audi Sport and something he will enjoy doing.” He would not divulge further details except to promise “an interesting approach”.
McNish stated that he would not be turning his back on racing.
“My heart and passion is in racing and up to now it has been in the cockpit, but that passion is not going to go away,” he said. “You can’t switch off 32 years of racing experience; I want to continue to use it.
“You can be certain that I will maintain my relationship with Audi Sport so I can help make sure that it continues its successes. The reasons Audi goes racing are the same as the reasons I have gone racing – to win. It has racing in its DNA, which is one of the reasons I was always dragged back when I had other options in my career.”
McNish stated on his retirement that he would be stepping up his involvement in other areas of the sport, including media work and driver management. He was a Formula 1 pundit for BBC Radio 5 Live at selected Grands Prix in 2013 and also helps manage Harry Tincknell, who is set to move from Formula 3 into sports cars this season.
McNish confirmed his decision to retire from full-time driving with Audi bosses less than a week ahead of the press event at which it had been due to confirm its 2014 driver line-up for both the WEC and the DTM. However, he underlined that he had first started to plan his retirement as early as the Spa round of the WEC in May.
He explained that the timing was perfect for him to stop.
“You have to get out at some point and everything lined up to make this an extremely good time to do it. Everything has fallen into place,” he said. “I have won pretty much everything I wanted to and I ticked the last box with the world championship.
“It is good to do it now with the change to the new car and new rules, which would have required a big commitment. Audi has to prepare for the next few years and I didn’t want to be ducking in and out of it.”
McNish hasn’t ruled out sporadic, one-off race appearances in the future, but stressed that he would “not be committing to a full championship campaign again”.
“One of the things I always wanted to do was the Daytona 24 Hours with Dario and Marino [Franchitti] and Ryan Dalziel as an all-Scottish line-up,” he said. “That’s not going to happen now [after Dario Franchitti’s injury-enforced retirement], but it would have to be something like that to bring me back. Right now I have no plans or even thoughts about it.”