Allan McNish has retired from racing with immediate effect.
The three-time Le Mans winner made the announcement just a few weeks after clinching the 2013 World Endurance Championship title.
The Briton, who has played an integral part of Audi's sportscar domination for the past 13 years, is not completely leaving the front line though. He will assist the factory team that has won Le Mans 12 times since 2000 in various roles next year.
“I’ve had a 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.
“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.
“Together with my team-mates Tom Kristensen and Loïc Duval I finished my most successful season in the sports car. I can look back on a fantastic career that has left no aims unfinished."
McNish revealed his decision with a message on Twitter:
The Dumfries-born driver also competed in Formula One for two years with Toyota and Renault, but it was in sportscars where McNish cemented his global reputation as one of the best drivers of his generation.
His three Le Mans victories were spread over 15 years, the first coming in 1998 with Porsche, and twice with Audi in 2008 and 2013. Since making his debut with Audi in 2000, McNish has contested 89 races, scoring 66 podiums, including 29 race wins and three American Le Mans Series titles.
The news was quickly picked up by teams, drivers and fans, with many paying tribute to his career, including one from Audi
McNish's wife, Kelly, offered her own tribute, and looked forward to seeing more of her husband:
McNish's boss at Audi, Dr Wolfgang Ullrich, also paid tribute to the Scot but admitted it was hard to see him go.
“We appreciate and respect Allan’s decision to retire at the pinnacle of his career,” he said.
“At the same time, this is a parting that is particularly difficult for us. All of us are well aware of Allan’s racing successes.
“We regret that Allan will no longer be contesting any races for us but are happy that he will continue to be associated with Audi Sport and the Audi brand.”