2011 Le Mans: Allan McNish will start from fifth position image

Audi driver Allan McNish will start his new Audi R18 TDI from fifth position on the grid for the 79th Le Mans 24 Hour endurance race in France on Saturday afternoon.

For the first time since 1999, when Audi started to compete in the 24 hours Le Mans, the automaker will use closed-cockpit vehicles.

McNish said: “Visually, I’ve always liked the closed cars.

“That probably harks back to the Steve McQueen film era when I thought they looked sexy.

“You have to go by the stopwatch, of course, but for me I do go for the closed cars, just purely based on aesthetics.

“I think they look like Le Mans cars, as in the Steve McQueen movie when they should be a total prototype, something from a different age.

2010 Le Mans winners Timo Bernhard (30/Germany)/Romain Dumas (33/France)/Mike Rockenfeller (27/Germany) complete the front row after Dumas clocked a 3mins 25.799 (148.134mph) in their R18 TDI which only made its race debut last month (8 May).

In other news, Augusto Farfus secured pole position for BMW in the GTE-Pro class with a fine lao that was half a second clear of the leading Ferrari in the hands of Gianmaria Bruni.