Allan McNish still believes he can fight for victory at this year's Le Mans 24 Hours, despite struggling to match the pace of Audi's main rival Peugeot in qualifying.
The double Le Mans winner, who shares the No. 7 Audi R15 TDI Plus with Tom Kristensen and Dindo Capello, said his team had worked hard on its race set-up during practice and qualifying and could head into the 78th running of the 24 Hours with confidence.
"We have enough experience, enough good mechanics, enough in the garage – and the drivers aren't too bad – to take the fight to them," McNish said. "I'm not going to sit here and say we're going to beat them – that would be slightly naive. I've been here every year since 1998 and only won twice, so I know how it can go away from you, but we've got a lot of victories here, and with those victories comes knowing, not how to win, but how not to lose."
McNish said he was surprised by the single-lap pace of the Peugeots and reckons that Audi would have to enjoy a mistake-free race to stand any chance.
"We don't have the speed of the Peugeots over one lap, but we realized that quite quickly on Wednesday," he said. "I knew where we were supposed to be, but I didn't expect them to have gained so much, so they have worked hard. I think the race is going to be won by a fast car and a clever car – it's not just going to be about speed.
"There are a lot of new drivers out there and the circuit has changed a little bit. We saw with Benoit [Treluyer]'s big shunt last year how a little bump can manifest into one car gone.
"The pit stops will have to be sharp and tidy and we'll have to make sure we're good for reliability. If you get all that right, you've got to be close to the front – not necessarily winning, but close to the front."