Herbert holds off McNish challenge

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The Independent Online

Johnny Herbert held off his fellow Briton and Audi UK team-mate, Allan McNish, in a close finish to win the first round of the inaugural Le Mans Endurance Series here yesterday.

Herbert, partnered by another British driver, Jamie Davies, and McNish, in tandem with Germany's Pierre Kaffer, streaked clear of the rest early on in the race, exchanging the lead until the halfway point.

Then Herbert boldly went past Kaffer on the grass and, with only nine laps remaining, held what appeared to be a comfortable 11-second advantage over McNish. However, McNish made light of torrential rain to close the gap and failed in his heroic bid to pass Herbert by a mere 0.663sec.

Audi's domination suggests they will be untouchable, not only in this four-race series, but also at next month's Le Mans 24-hour race. Herbert said: "It's been a great race and a great day for Audi. It's very satisfying to be the first winner of this new series.

"We were always confident. The competition within the team is extremely strong and I don't expect it to be any different at Le Mans. The important thing is that we've put in a good performance and got ourselves race sharp for the 24-hour race.''

The series resumes after Le Mans with further 1,000km races at the Nürburging, Silverstone, and Spa-Francorchamps.