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McNish: Preparation more important than pole

Allan McNish said he was delighted with the results of qualifying for the Le Mans 24 Hours, despite missing out on giving the Audi R15 a debut pole at La Sarthe.

The Scot had looked good to put the new diesel-powered machine at the head of the field, having posted a provisional pole time of 3mim 23.650secs shortly before the end of the opening two-hour phase of qualifying.

However, his time was eclipsed by Peugeot's Stephane Sarrazin as the clock clicked towards midnight, with the #8 908 TDi taking early bragging rights at the front of the pack.

McNish will still line-up on the front row in the car he shares with Dindo Capello and Tom Kristensen, and the Scot said he was happy with his nights work.

“I'm delighted with our overall performance – pole-position would have been nice, it was a nip and tuck battle with Sarrazin and fun to monitor on the timing screens in the pits at the end,” he said. “But the reality was that we needed to concentrate on getting a good handling car for the race rather than battle it out for 'pole' in the final two hours.

“Le Mans is the new R15 TDI's second race and the first time it turned a wheel here [at Le Mans] was in Wednesday's six-hour rain-affected practice. Peugeot is our main rival and their car is racing here for a third year so is a known factor in terms of dialling in their car to this track.

“Like Wednesday's practice, all Audis concentrated on race set-up in Thursday's qualifying – as opposed to out and out qualifying laps. All three cars worked on different elements, like collecting important tyre wear data for example.”

The two remaining factory Audi's will start the race from sixth and seventh on the grid.

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