World Endurance Championship title winner Allan McNish has announced that he is to hang up his helmet with immediate effect.

The 43-year-old Scottish driver secured the WEC title this season alongside Loic Duval and long-time partner Tom Kristensen, adding the FIA title to an impressive resume that includes three victories in the Le Mans 24 Hours and three American Le Mans Series titles.

While he will now no longer compete with Audi on track, McNish is set to assist the German manufacturer with its racing programme in future.

"I've had fantastically successful time with Audi and feel it's the right time to step back from Le Mans sports-prototype racing and to look at other opportunities," he said. "As a racing driver it's important to stop [racing] at the right time when I'm still fast and capable of doing the job and the timing feels right after winning Le Mans for a third time this year and claiming the World title.

"This year especially was mega successful, teaming up with Lo?c for the first time and obviously with long-time co-driver Tom. We've ticked all of the boxes and I ticked my personal ones too but now the time is right to hand over to the young guys.

"I've won the championships and races I wanted to win and frankly there's no better way to end my Audi sportscar race career than going out as a World Champion.

"My fellow Scot and mentor Jackie Stewart knew when to get into things but also knew when to get out and he has taught me that lesson."

McNish was also quick to pay tribute to the huge part Audi had played in his career, with most of his sportscar success coming behind the wheel of cars from Ingolstadt.

"Over the years I won three American Le Mans Series titles, four race wins at Sebring and at Petit Le Mans, scored two wins of my three Le Mans wins with Audi and have now won the World title," he said. "My success is not just down to me but comes as a result of a huge effort by Audi Sport who gave me the tools and my co-drivers to do the job right.

"There are some great new drivers coming through and they need an opportunity just like I did. I'm looking forward to being part of Audi Sport in the future to ensure that these young drivers have the same level of fun and success that I have enjoyed over the years.

"I celebrate my 44th birthday later this month and I've only ever been involved in racing to win. Winning is the sole reason I went racing and the investment of time, energy, mental and physical attention plus the sacrifices for my family can now be adjusted."

Audi motorsport boss Wolfgang Ullrich admitted that McNish's decision to retire was a difficult one for the team, but said Audi fully respected his desire to end his career on a high.

"We appreciate and respect Allan's decision to retire at the pinnacle of his career," he said. "At the same time, this is a parting that is particularly difficult for us. All of us are well aware of Allan's racing successes.

"We should not forget, though, how valuable he has been in the development of our race cars, how great a team player he has always been and how he has consistently applied himself to achieve Audi's aims far beyond motorsport with professionalism, loyalty and commitment.

"We regret that Allan will no longer be contesting any races for us but are happy that he will continue to be associated with Audi Sport and the Audi brand."