Pirro back at Daytona 24 after three decades

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Laurent Mercier - Endurance Info

Despite his five wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Emanuele Pirro is still hungry for racing and more victories. The chatty Italian is taking part in his second ever Daytona 24 Hours…31 years after his debut at the Florida track. He’s sharing the APR Racing Audi R8 with Ian Baas, Nelson Canache, Jim Norman and Dion von Moltke.

“I really wanted to do this race again,” Emanuele said. “At the time, it meant a lot to me. It’s not only a race, but it’s a good experience in life. It had a big impact on me, but for various reasons, I never came back, my career took me elsewhere.”

It had a big impact on me, but for various reasons, I never came back, my career took me elsewhere.

Emanuele Pirro

In 1981, he drove a Lancia alongside the late Michele Alboreto and Beppe Gabbiani: “I have so many memories of that race. When we entered the track for the first time with my teammates, we wanted to turn around and go home. None of us had seen such a thing before.” As the schedule was relatively light, the Italian decided to take a quick trip to Miami. “The eve of the qualifying, we had nothing to do, so along with Michele, his wife, and Beppe, we went to Miami for lunch. We thought that 250 miles wouldn’t be that far, but it took us much more time than we thought, and I got pulled over for going 105mph in a 55mph zone. On the trip home, I saw the ocean on my left, and I thought that’s not right. We ended up somewhere near the Gulf of Mexico driving all night. We got back to the track just in time.”

Eduardo Costabal, Eliseo Salazar and Emanuele Pirro
Eduardo Costabal, Eliseo Salazar and Emanuele Pirro

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

During the race, the Lancia encountered no problems, unlike the top Ferrari 308. “After the race, Cesare Fiorio asked me if I knew what I’d done. To be honest, I didn’t really know. It was as if I had done a 24 hour test. At that time, I thought you had to drive as fast as possible and I couldn’t understand that we couldn’t be authorized to push all the time. We even had to slow down to cool the turbo on each lap. The press was very positive for me and it led to many positive things for me.”

As ambassador for the Audi brand, Emanuele didn’t hesitate to make his return to Daytona. “Audi organized this for me. I told them that I wanted to do it and they passed along the message to the team that I was available. It’s very good for me to be here again. It was the first big race of my career and I can’t say that it’s the last, but I’m definitely closer to the end of my career than at the start!”

translation by Rainier Ehrhardt

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Series GRANDAM
Tags audi, daytona, featured, pirro, rolex