Scot McNish goes trucking 11 | 01 | 2011

    SCOTS DOUBLE Le Mans 24-Hours winner Allan McNish has swapped his all-new V6 turbodiesel Audi R18 Coupe for something slightly larger and definitely slower: a 42-tonne Scania R 730, the world’s most powerful truck.

    The Dumfries-born racer, who will attend the Autosport International Show in Birmingham on Saturday and Sunday, took the wheel of the Scania — complete with with a tri-axle trailer and gross vehicle weight of 42-tonnes — around the Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire.

    “I was briefed by Scania personnel that UK hauliers generally look for 10hp/tonne so on that basis, the R 730 would be good for 73-tonnes," the diminutive Scot (pictured, dwarfed behind the steering wheel of the truck) explained. "To put that in perspective, the UK's top weight for 'standard' road operations is 44-tonnes – so the R 730 had plenty of power to spare.

    “I’ve spent the last five seasons driving either the R10TDI, R15TDI and most recently our new Audi R18 Coupe. The R10TDI back in 2006 had over 1100 Newton Metres of torque, with the R15TDI I drove in this year’s Le Mans featuring around 1050 Nm. The Scania R 730 boasted an incredible 3500Nm!”

    The Scania R 730 has a 16-litre V8 diesel engine producing 730bhp and is the Swedish company’s flagship of R-series range, the International Truck of the Year 2010.

    “I’d previously driven a 7.5 ton truck on the odd occasion in Dumfries, but driving the Scania was like heading into a different world," McNish, who will again lead Audi's assault on the French endurance classic in June, continued. "The sheer size and power of the truck, combined with its clever electronics, was amazing and a real eye-opener.

    “When you select a gear to drive away in, it automatically selects the best gear considering the weight of the vehicle but also the incline, whether it is going uphill or downhill for example. Also, when you release the handbrake, there is a three-second auto hold facility to cover the time your foot goes from the footbrake across to the throttle, allowing you to accelerate gently away – fantastic for hill starts!

    “I also found it interesting that the 14-speed gearbox actually ‘shifts’ gears at a similar speed to my Audi race car, which I thought was incredible.

    “Considering the immense power, acceleration is very controlled, relaxed and smooth. My Audi sportscar has less horsepower and a lot less torque but only weighs 900kg. But I saw a lot of the same solutions to problems but maybe using them in a slightly different way on the Scania as we do at Audi Sport with our racecars.”

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    Jim McGill

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