Allan McNish is confident that Audi is in good shape heading for the Le Mans 24 Hours even though its new R15 Plus was beaten by Peugeot in the Spa 1000km today.
Peugeot took a 1-2 finish, with the best of Audi's trio of R15s in third place, as the two giants of sportscar racing had their first head to head of the year after Peugeot's unchallenged Sebring 12 Hours win and Audi's domination of the Le Mans Series' eight-hour opener at Paul Ricard last month.
Although Peugeot took a clear victory at Spa, McNish pointed out that Audi had been running with Le Mans levels of downforce so had not been at all optimised to the Belgian track -- especially in today's often wet conditions.
"Obviously the weather wasn't easy and with us having Le Mans downforce we struggled very much to try and generate tire temperature and grip so when it was raining at the beginning I was basically trying to keep the car on the track and I had no interest in trying to fight for position," he said. "After it dried up it was much better for us and we were able to push and with some clever strategy we were able to push up into the lead and the car balance stayed with us.
"But ultimately from our point of view, round here with these conditions, I think if we had come with Spa downforce it would have helped us a hell of a lot but we didn't. We suffered a little bit when it got cold and damp."
McNish and teammates Tom Kristensen and Dindo Capello lost a large lead when the race was red flagged due to a power cut at the circuit, but the Scot reckoned Peugeot would have caught up regardless.
"They were always going to come back into us," he said. "Obviously, if the conditions had stayed a bit more constant then we would have been able to control it a bit better. When you get to the end of the stint and you get changing weather and you've got light downforce that's when you lose out because you don't have the security of the tire grip any longer.
"We have got to be quite happy, because we did everything we wanted to do for Le Mans and that is a massive positive we got out of it."