Let’s face it 2010 was one strange year. From politics to pop culture, news media running off the rails, oil spills, home foreclosures, Toyota recalls and a World Series with two teams to which oddsmakers never gave a serious thought. For much of the motorsport world, the script pretty much followed the events of the year. Formula One has been colored red courtesy of the Bull; the team has the personnel, talent and the equipment. Still, you can drive a Ferrari or a McLaren, while one only drinks a Red Bull. Change is gonna come, but maybe not in the way most thought. Tradition can also be a generational state of mind.
The high end in sports prototype racing belongs exclusively to the diesel club of Audi and Peugeot. The Lord of the Rings had things its own way for several years with the R10, and the replacement R15 won Sebring straight out of the box in 2009. Peugeot sharpened its claws and rebounded for a win at Le Mans and then capped last year off with a bizarre win at Road Atlanta for Petit Le Mans when the leading Audi spun off a wet track under yellow. Ingolstadt skipped taking the R15 to Sebring to start 2010, instead taking its time to further develop the car for the duel at La Sarthe with a few Le Mans Series races thrown in to keep things honest. Peugeot did take Sebring but it wasn’t as easy as it should have been. A mixture of LMP1 entrants kept things interesting, including a strong run by the Aston Martin Lola piloted by fan favorite Adrian Fernandez.
Le Mans was simply a shocker to most observers. The complete mechanical collapse of the Peugeot lion on its home circuit was unthinkable, and the surprised but hey, we’ll take it Audi team departed with the knowledge that the R15 will join its R8 and R10 brethren as a victor. Then the dueling diesel manufacturers each sent a pair to the Colonies to do battle at Road Atlanta for Petit Le Mans. The Audi A-team of Kristensen, Capello and McNish was in contention for, if not the win, a solid Second, only to suffer one of the more bizarre incidents of recent memory. On one of the many restarts, Dindo Capello, out in front of the Peugeot duo, had the liner of his helmet come loose and his Nomex balaclava collapse over his eyes to force a pit stop. It was enough of an out-of-synch moment that the record-setting trio had to settle for Third behind the lions. So what did Allan McNish think about the season?
AM: I suppose in a way 2010 was a bit frustrating. We started the season with the R15, a win, and an injection of enthusiasm. At Spa and Petit, Tom, Dindo and I were fighting for victory with Peugeot before ultimately finishing disappointing Thirds. In Silverstone I gave the R15 its first ever pole, and was surprised when I heard that particular fact, but after 15 laps I was walking back to the pits with my first memory of an Audi car stopping in a race due to reliability.
Le Mans, we were the leading Audi and just hanging on to the Peugeot when Tom had the incident with Andy. Right then I thought that was a podium gonenever did I think That’s a victory gone. But as it turned out, our pit stop was the deciding factor in my third win at Le Mans or another third-place trophy. Personally I had good races, was able to mix it up with the Peugeots and give them something to think about. I enjoyed that, but ultimately we could have had a bit more out of the year.