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Allan McNish

29th December 1969 (Age 50)
Dumfries, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland
Most recent race (in database):

From a prodigious young single-seater hopeful to a leading sports car driver of recent years, the diminutive Allan McNish was a winner throughout his racing career.

Successful in karting and cars

A multiple karting champion north of the border during his childhood, McNish was third in the 1985 Junior World Cup at Le Mans when beaten by defending champion Andrea Gilardi and a certain Michael Schumacher.

He starred in British Formula Ford 1600 in 1987. Despite his Ecurie Ecosse Van Diemen RF87 being beaten to both junior titles by Irishman Derek Higgins, McNish’s obvious promise was rewarded with Marlboro backing and a drive with Dragon Racing for the new Formula GM-Lotus in 1988. He won the British title and finished third behind team-mate Mika Häkkinen in the Euroseries.

McNish graduated to the 1989 British Formula 3 Championship with a West Surrey Racing Ralt RT33-Mugen. He won five times and finished as a close runner-up behind Bowman Racing’s David Brabham. Eighth on his Formula 3000 debut at Dijon-Prenois that year, the 20 year old was a McLaren test driver during 1990 and appeared on an inexorable path to Formula 1.

As well as those testing duties, McNish impressed during his first full F3000 season with a Marlboro DAMS Lola T90/50-Mugen. The season started in tragic circumstances when McNish clashed with Emanuele Naspetti’s Reynard on the fourth lap at Donington Park. His car was launched into a tunnel beneath the track and a spectator was killed. McNish bounced back to qualify on pole position and win the following round at Silverstone. He won again at Brands Hatch and was a fine fourth overall in his rookie campaign.

Pre-season favourite for 1991 in his second season with DAMS, his campaign began with early DNQs at Vallelunga and Jerez. Fifth at Mugello was the only top-six finish in a hugely disappointing season. His promising F3000 career had come to a shuddering halt.

He remained in the category in 1992 driving a 3001 International Reynard 92D-Mugen and finished third at Hockenheim. The next couple of years were spent as Benetton’s test driver although he did complete a final F3000 season with Paul Stewart Racing in 1995. He qualified on pole position twice and finished second at Pau but his open-wheel aspirations appeared over.

Sports car racing with Porsche and Audi

McNish joined Porsche’s endurance racing team in 1997 and was soon impressing once more. He won the 1998 Le Mans 24 Hours with a Porsche 911 GT1-98 before moving to Audi to win the 2000 American Le Mans Series.

Formula 1 with Toyota

Now in his thirties, McNish was suddenly offered another F1 opportunity as development driver as Toyota prepared for its debut season. 2001 was spent testing and his reward was a race seat for 2002. His only campaign as a Grand Prix driver included a seventh place finish in Malaysia and a huge practice accident at Suzuka’s 130R corner that destroyed his Toyota TF102. He tested for Renault during 2003 before spending the rest of the decade establishing himself among sports car racing’s elite.

Return to Audi

Part of the all-conquering Audi team of the 2000s, McNish delivered two more ALMS titles with Dindo Capello (in 2006 and 2007) and another victory in the 2008 Le Mans 24 Hours with Capello, Tom Kristensen and the turbo-diesel Audi R10 TDI.

As well as his two victories at Le Mans, McNish was second in 2000 and 2012, and third on four occasions (2005, 2006, 2009 and 2010). However, he survived a huge accident during the early stages of the 2011 race when his Audi R18 TDI landed in a photographers’ area – thankfully without injury.

He almost won the 2012 Daytona 24 Hours for Starworks Motorsports before another season with Audi began with his fourth victory at Sebring. McNish and Kristensen then finished as runners-up in the new World Endurance Championship behind team-mates André Lotterer, Benoît Tréluyer and Marcel Fässler.

In what proved to be his final season, McNish teamed up with Kristensen and Loïc Duval to win three times that included the Scot's third success at Le Mans. That victory was worth double points and proved vital as the experienced trio edged Lotterer, Tréluyer and Fässler in the title race. Crowned world champion for the first time in his career, McNish announced his retirement from racing at the end of the year.

Championship seasons

Season Name Starts Poles Podiums Wins Position Points
2013 World Endurance Championship
Audi Sport Team Joest
8 2 7 3 1st 162
2012 World Endurance Championship
Audi Sport Team Joest
8 2 7 1 2nd 159
2011 Intercontinental Le Mans Cup
Audi Sport North America
1 0 0 0 0
2010 Le Mans Series
Audi Sport Team Joest
1 0 1 1 9th 45
2009 American Le Mans Series
Audi Sport Team Joest
1 0 1 1 0
2008 Le Mans Series
Audi Sport Team Joest
1 0 1 1 5th 27
2008 American Le Mans Series
Audi Sport North America
1 0 1 1 0
2007 American Le Mans Series
Audi Sport North America
3 0 3 3 1st 0
2006 American Le Mans Series
Audi Sport North America
7 1 7 7 1st 0
2005 Le Mans Endurance Series
1 0 1 1 4th 26
2005 Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft
Abt Sportsline
11 0 0 0
0% win rate
10th 13
2004 American Le Mans Series
Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx
1 0 1 1 0
2004 Le Mans Endurance Series
Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx
2 0 2 2 3rd 28
2003 F1 World Championship
Mild Seven Renault F1
0 (15) 0 0 0 0
2002 F1 World Championship
Panasonic Toyota Racing
16 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
2000 American Le Mans Series
Audi Sport North America
6 5 6 6 1st 0
1998 FIA GT Championship 5th 27
1997 FIA GT Championship 23rd 4
1995 FIA International F3000 Championship
Paul Stewart Racing
8 2 2 0
0% win rate
7th 11
1994 FIA International F3000 Championship
Vortex Motorsport
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
1992 FIA International F3000 Championship
3001 International
7 0 1 0
0% win rate
11th 8
1991 FIA International F3000 Championship
Marlboro Team DAMS
8 (2) 0 0 0
0% win rate
16th 2
1990 FIA International F3000 Championship
Marlboro Team DAMS
11 1 3 2
19% win rate
4th 26
1989 FIA International F3000 Championship
Pacific Racing
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
1989 Lucas British F3 Championship
West Surrey Racing
5 2 5 5 2nd 70