We take a fast ride of AUTOSPORT Six Hours venue Silverstone with Allan McNish in our preview video for the latest round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup. And as he says here, Sam Tremayne is still re-living the experience
By Sam Tremayne
The engine revs build in a crescendo of noise and vibration, forcing me down into the seat from which I have an exclusive view of the Silverstone asphalt.
Alongside me, double Le Mans champion Allan McNish is calmly - and with remarkable clarity given speeds in excess of 140mph - talking me step by step down the Hangar straight, through Stowe and Vale and onto the new International pit straight.
McNish's narrative over two laps of the national circuit is a remarkable composition – an easy, seamless monologue that defies the concentration and effort evident in spite of the minimum steering input and the kissing of every apex.
As the onboard video shows, this is McNish in his absolute element. He is not just painting a picture with his words; this is a real-time demonstration of his genius, played out on the canvas of the Silverstone circuit through the conduit of a 520bhp Audi R8 LMS car prepared by Progressive Motorsport.
"This is the fast section of Silverstone," he explains. "Through Becketts, down Hangar straight, through Stowe, your brain is doing about 160mph. You've got a massive g-force pulling you to one side of the car and then immediately to the other. Your lungs are getting crushed from one side of your ribcage to the other.
"Then suddenly you get to the slow parts of Club and then the new infield sections, and that's where you have to be very gentle on the car, very gentle on the throttle, very gentle in your driving style."
Such is his ease, he is even able to build in his own conclusion as the ride comes to an end. "It's a real circuit of two halves, but one thing is does do, is it always, always provides a fantastic race."
Scarily, as impressive as the car is, it does not even come close to the R18 TDI LMP he will pilot on the weekend. That gives me another pause for thought, as the seamless narrative continues beside me even when we approach the tricky braking zones of Abbey and Arena.
It is impossible to resist the thrill of witnessing a driver like McNish first hand, a lesson in conquering - or perhaps the word is harnessing - such extreme power, grip and performance, and directing them so effortlessly, so precisely, into a single lap.
That however is only a taste of what we can expect in Britain's biggest sportscar race of the year, the AUTOSPORT Six Hours, this weekend. McNish will be putting all his skill and nous to the test on home soil, as 50 cars compete for the same few inches of asphalt.
For some, that is a sobering thought. For McNish, it is something to be savoured.
"Silverstone draws on four years of competition between Audi and Peugeot," he says. "There's not been anyone who has dominated this year, and we go into Silverstone not knowing who is favourite. The conditions will change, the cars will be quick in different sections… and that will produce a great race.
"Of course as my home race the pressure is on, especially as there will be so many friend and old faces turning up…"
There will certainly be no shortage of support for the Scot. Twice a winner of the greatest race of them all, the Le Mans 24 Hours, McNish is widely regarded as one of Britain's finest – and most affable – racing stars.
He also has previous form at the race, having qualified on pole for last year's event co-driving with Tom Kristensen – his partner again this time round. Competition is as fierce as ever – 2011 Le Mans winner Marcel Fassler will take the second Audi R18 alongside Timo Bernhard, while runner-up Sebastien Bourdais will share one of two Peugeot 908s with Britain's Anthony Davidson (injury permitting).
Thing is, you just wouldn't want to bet against McNish adding the Silverstone 6 Hours crown to an already glittering trophy cabinet…
If you want to witness McNish and the 50-strong ILMC field in action, tickets are available for this weekend (9-11 September) from just £12. Visit www.silverstone.co.uk.