Audi veteran Rinaldo Capello says he does not blame Allan McNish for missing out on the chance to add a fourth Le Mans 24 Hours victory to his tally on the Italian's final crack at the race.
McNish spun the #2 R18 e-tron Quattro into the wall at the Porsche Curves in the 22nd hour of the race as the two Audi hybrids contested the lead while on differing fuel strategies.
The Scot recovered the car to the pits, but lost a lap while its front end was replaced costing the crew any realistic chance of victory. But 48-year-old Capello was philosophical about missing out on the chance to win what he admits is very likely to be his last Le Mans as an Audi prototype driver.
"When I saw the car in the wall, for a little while I really felt bad because I was really quite confident," Capello said. "We had a good chance to win the race.
"For sure we talked. I've known Allan for many, many years and I've raced with him together in many races and I've never seen him so down. I told him: 'Don't worry, what happened to you could have happened to me, to Tom [Kristensen], to anyone. You were fighting for the team victory, we win together and we lose together.' But then I told him, 'You will win the WEC championship and everything will be forgotten!'"
The #2 Audi was delayed in the early stages of the race when it pitted to remove rubber build up that was affecting its rear suspension travel. Capello admitted he was surprised his car came back into contention after the rival Toyotas crashed and his teammates hit trouble through the night. He even believes his crew had the better chance of winning before McNish's accident.
"It was a strange race," said Capello. "At one stage it looked like we had no chance anymore to fight for the victory and then suddenly we get back into the race in a very strong fight. And from that moment all of us started to really focus on trying to win this race. But to win we had to take some risks, and you know sometimes taking risks works and sometimes it doesn't. This time it didn't.
"For sure, I felt disappointed when I saw the car in the wall, but as a driver immediately my thoughts went to Allan because I know he was giving 100% to try to close the gap as much as possible to the #1 car.
"In terms of strategy I think probably we were in a better place with the fuel, and probably they needed one extra pit stop compared to us and that probably would have been the key to the race."