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McNish retires from racing at top of his game

Dec 17, 2013, 1:00 PM EDT

FRA-AUTO-LEMANS Getty Images

One of sports car racing’s most iconic and legendary drivers, Scotsman Allan McNish, has retired from sports car racing. The announcement comes only a day ahead of Audi announcing its 2014 program for the FIA World Endurance Championship.

“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,” McNish said in a statement. “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.”

Indeed this year capped one of McNish’s most successful seasons. He won Le Mans for the third time and took the Driver’s World Championship in the WEC with longtime co-driver Tom Kristensen and emerging French talent Loïc Duval. In an 11-year relationship with Audi, McNish won 29 races including four wins in the 12 Hours of Sebring and four at Petit Le Mans.

McNish also had several years in Formula One as a test driver in the 1990s with McLaren and Benetton, before taking up a test and then race seat with Toyota in 2002. He failed to score a point, though, and perhaps his most notable Grand Prix moment came with a bad crash at Suzuka’s 130R corner in qualifying. Fortunately he emerged unscathed.

He could tell the same story, too, after surviving this smash at the 2011 24 Hours of Le Mans.

We’re thankful he walked away from both shunts, and we’re especially grateful for his dynamic attitude, pure grit and tenacity on track, and a fighting spirit every time he stepped into an Audi cockpit.

McNish is likely to continue in an ambassadorial or support role with Audi, however his starring efforts behind the wheel are at an end. His Scottish countryman Dario Franchitti summed up their possible next exploits:

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