It was another busy year for Allan McNish is 2005, withs races in a variety of different championships around the world. Here, in the first part of his look back over last season, the Scot discusses Sebring, the start of the DTM season and the Le Mans 24 Hours...

"Well as we go into 2006, I thought we should have a quick look back at 2005.

"In the end, it was an extremely busy year, between Sebring, Le Mans, DTM and finally the Le Mans Endurance Series, I did 16 races. That coupled with other commitments mainly with sponsors Jewson and Alexandre, continued UK Sport events, an amazing desert test with the Dakar VW Touerag and last, but certainly not least, the birth of our son, it was, well, hectic to say the very least...

"It all started in Sebring, which was a precursor for what most 2005 races were going to be like. After twelve hours of hard wheel to wheel racing, we came up short by just over six seconds. The race was finally decided at the second last pit stop when I was delayed for a couple of precious seconds by a TV crew filming my team-mate and competitor for victory, Tom Kristensen's exit from the pits - how ironic. This delay cost me the lead and ultimately back-to-back 12 Hours of Sebring Victories. However, it did set the tone for some fantastically close races throughout the season.

"On Monday after the 12 Hours, we had the opening of the new Champion Motors Audi dealership near Miami. This is significant because it became the largest in the world, taking top spot from a small dealer in Scotland, Glasgow Audi!!!! Now not many of you would have thought that but before Dave Maraj got his place up and running, more Audi's were sold out of that one Scottish showroom than any other in the world. Cool eh!

"Now my main programme in 2005 was DTM. The category has very limited testing and pretty much all of it is pre-season. It is the way the regulations are written to try and reduce costs, and so I was glad to be able to get a day in Spa before the race with the 2004 spec car. It was a really good test and the first one I had with the DTM car on a track I knew. It was dry and we were able to run 75 laps and always ran at the front, oh, and Eau Rouge was easy flat!!! And so is Blanchimont. We had one final test prior to the first race and that was my first run with my own race car, mechanics and engineer, it obviously was critical and the first time we could 'get to know each other'. But things ran pretty well and apart from rain interrupting play a few times we pushed as hard as we could to be ready for the first race.

"As I said, this year was very busy outside of my racing programme and so I was off to Bahrain GP for an event with UBS. It was a great race with the confirmation that there was a new world order with Alonso and Raikonnen dominating proceedings and Ferrari nowhere to be seen. It was obvious that 2005 was not going to be their year.

"It was straight back to Hamburg for the official DTM launch where I had to drive my racecar around the streets in a simulated race with Mercedes and Opel. Over 20,000 fans turned out for a few cars driving at a maximum of 80km/h - a brief insight into how the Germans adore DTM. Yes, the police were present and no I did not get a speeding ticket but we did get a 'talking to'.

"After Hamburg, I thought I was ready for the crowds, but the first race at Hockenheim was a shock. Over 100,000 mad fans turned up, this was way more than for the previous years F1 GP!!! That is when I realised DTM was big. Unfortunately, the race was a shock as well. Audi arrived there with four new 2005 spec cars that we felt we could take a good fight to Mercedes but soon found that the car was not adapted very well to the track. We worked hard to get a balance but did not really find a competitive set up. I finished just outside the points and as a whole we were disappointed with only two of us finishing at all and Ekstrom, the then champion, down in fifth. Hard work had to be done.

"In typical Audi fashion, they did not take that lying down and went testing. Ekstrom and Kristensen completed a test at Lausitzring and when we turned up there for race two, the car was in much better shape. I had a few small problems in practice and in qualifying was less than two-tenths behind Tom K. However, on the small tight track and in DTM that meant I was five positions behind on the grid! DTM is close. The race itself was a going well until I came out of the pits on new tyres and was behind Marcel Fassler on very used ones. I dived down the inside and we collided, both our races over. It was then a quick trip to the stewards and they were ready to give me a penalty, but when asked what happened Marcel said 'sorry, I had lost my mirror and did not see him' - little bit of a lucky escape as I think it was 50/50. However, the race was a zero points, which was a disappointment as Tom had managed to get from seventh up to second in the carnage.

"It was then off to Spa, however, just before that, I had something to attend that, I was told, I was not going to miss, the birth of our son, Finlay. He was born on Tuesday, 9 May, just before his due date which was the Sunday of the Monaco GP. This was lucky as our doctor was unable to guarantee being there as you can imagine the logistics of GP traffic on race day are a nightmare in Monaco. DTM colleague Bernd Schneider had a little girl on the same day and both of us were locked in battle in Spa a couple of days later but neither would score points with Bernd having a major accident at Eau Rouge and me having a puncture three laps from home. However, it was a strong weekend and second fastest in warm up told us we were on the right road.

"From Spa, it was off to Brno in the Czech Republic. A new track for me but one Audi were strong at in 2004. The track is great, nice variety of corners and also some decent straights and overtaking points. Quickest in first practice was a good sign and were able to follow that up with a seventh on the starting grid. Apart from a hit at turn one from Reuter, things were looking very good for my first podium until I exited from my first stop right behind third placed Frentzen - I then received the message 'speeding in the pit lane, drive through penalty'. As you can imagine, I was very annoyed and suggested there was a mistake, not sure if they understood my Scottish but I had to serve the penalty anyway. This dropped me out of the points and I was able to come back to seventh. Very disappointing as a podium was virtually guaranteed. The problem, the car overshot the 80km/h limit by 0.5 km/h for 0.3 of a second!!! However, rules are rules.

"Le Mans is, as usual, one of the best and biggest races of the year, but under the new regulations, the weight and power handicap the R8 had, would mean that we would have our work cut out to win. In fact, in qualifying, we were five seconds from pole position. I thought third behind the two Pescarolo's prototypes was a good effort and it was close. The sister Champion R8 of Tom Kristensen was down in eighth position only one second behind. This looked like it could be the end of the R8 reign in Le Mans. However, the car was the best it has ever been round there and I think we pushed harder for longer than ever before. It was fantastic to drive. Emmanuelle was on the pace at the beginning, and accidents and a gearbox failure in the 'Pesca' camp things were going our way, but a small hiccup early on let the sister car into the lead and left us chasing.

"After about 15 hours and having caught up nearly 1 1/2 minutes and with the Pesca on the return just behind, the race was unfortunately decided against us with a right front tyre delaminating on the Mulsanne straight at about 200mph. The damage of a tyre coming apart at that speed was incredible but the car got back. The team repaired it really quickly and we continued to finish third. TK won his seventh Le Mans and the Audi R8 record continued, but the Pesca... that will be a very hard team to beat in 2006... As for me, I now have three Le Mans podium trophies and can assure you the winning one is the only one!"

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