|Capello (Left) with team mates, Tom
Kristensen (center) and Allan McNish
(Right). ©Audi AG.
Rinaldo Capello, a name which will forever be associated with Audi and sportscar success, will no longer adorn the side of an Audi race car. The Italian driver today announced his retirement from top flight prototype racing, leaving the Audi team with which he has raced since 1999 baring a year at Le Mans with Bentley in 2003. Of his fourteen Le Mans starts, only three have not netted a podium finish.
Capello talked of retiring during June's 24 Heures du Mans, saying that with age comes the inability to compete at the level demanded by the nature of racing in P1.
During his time at Audi, Capello has driven all but one of the company's LMP1 machines. He started in the R8R, worked his way through the R8, R10 TDI, R15 TDI and R18 TDI. In 2012 he worked to bring a Hybrid 1-2 at Le Mans with the e-Tron Quattro, missing only the sister car, the R18 Ultra in his run through Audi's racing stable. He also drove a year in DTM with Audi Sport Team Joest, though his 20th place finish in the season was not much to write home about.
Of his career, we will remember the three Le Mans outright victories, five wins at the Mobil1 12 Hours of Sebring, twenty-three race victories in the American Le Mans Series and three race wins in the Le Mans Series, (now the ELMS). Capello currently holds a share of the lead in the World Endurance Championship, with his long term team mates, McNish and Kristensesn.
Capello said in a statement by Audi, "I am saying goodbye with a clear conscience because I have no unfinished business with my sport. In all disciplines and categories, Audi and I together have achieved the maximum with victories and titles. As late as in March, we won at Sebring and I'm currently ranking in first place of the WEC standings. I wanted to quit at a time when I was still able to show top performances."
Dr Wolfgang Ulrich, team boss at Audi Sport commented on his long term driver, "On behalf of Audi I would like to express a huge thank you to Dindo.
"Dindo was at the top of the sport for 19 years and all employees at Audi Sport were pleased to make this possible for him. I am proud of both. In terms of the sport as well as in a personal and professional sense - it has always been a pleasure to work with Dindo and to know that he was part of our team."
Capello will continue to race Audis, stepping down to the R8 LMS Ultra and offering his services to GT3 teams in Europe and beyond.
McNish and Kristensen will continue the rest of the season without a third driver, as only six hour races remain on the WEC calendar.