Flying Scotsman Allan McNish took time out from pre-race testing for this year’s Le Mans 24 hour race to make a surprise addition to the Toyota GB karting team recently.
The 29 year-old racer from Dumfries will drive one of three Toyota GT-One cars entered for the world famous race on 12-13 June alongside another former race winner and F1 TV commentator, Martin Brundle. Brundle secured fastest time of all in pre-qualifying for the race.
McNish won the Le Mans race last year after the leading Toyota retired with just 80 minutes to go. “Toyota has made the car faster and more reliable,” explained McNish, “I’m confident Toyota will do even better this year – but I still hope to be behind the wheel of the winning car!”
Swapping his 600bhp, 230mph twin-turbo Toyota GT-One for a 20bhp kart at the Daytona International circuit in Milton Keynes proved no hindrance to McNish who, like many racing drivers started his career in karting. “I still like to compete whenever I have the time,” explained McNish. He’s also the perfect build for karting – nine stone and five foot six!
Toyota enters a team in Autochallenge ’99, the car industry kart championship, that is made up of motoring journalists from Autocar, Auto Express and EVO magazine. However, unlike in It’s A Knockout, playing the McNish ‘Joker’ meant the Toyota team was not allowed to score points in the race as McNish is a professional driver.
Nevertheless it was worth it just to see McNish in action said team boss James Thomas. “Allan took pole position and set the fastest lap of the day, but then he is three time British and six time Scottish karting champion. It just reminds us these guys are a breed apart.”