Nancy Knapp Schilke
Rinaldo "Dindo" Capello announced today that he is leaving Audi as a works driver, but that does not mean he will not be playing elsewhere. Dindo as he is known by his Audi teammates, his fans and the media, spent 19 years racing a prototype with the German manufacturer.
"Naturally, there is a feeling of sadness, as this departure from the factory team is not easy," Capello said.
His first race for Audi at the 24 Hours of Le Mans was in 1999 driving an Audi R8R with Audi Sport Team Joest, and he finished fourth overall. The popular Italian’s debut in the prestigious June classic was in ’98 with BMW. Capello made it onto the overall podium in 2000 on the final step, the next year, he was second.
His first win at the June classic in Le Mans, France was not with Audi. With teammates Tom Kristensen and Guy Smith, they landed gold with Team Bentley in 2003. However, back with Audi under the Japan Team Goh banner Capello earned his second consecutive Le Mans victory with Kristensen and Seiji Ara in the R8. His third win came in 2008 with Kristensen and Allan McNish; this time in the Audi R10 TDI.
At Le Mans this year, Capello and his teammates spoke with Motorsport.com’s Stephen Errity.
At the age of 48 had he won the 2012 Le Mans, he would have landed the title of the oldest-ever victor of event.
Head of Audi Motorsports, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich commented: "This is an extremely unusual string of successes and a very emotional moment. 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.”
It was a great pleasure to work with you for so many years
Capello is also a two-time champion of the American Le Mans Series with his good friend and co-driver McNish (2006, ’07). On his Facebook page, the Scotsman said: “Many, many thanks from everybody at Audi Sport Team Joest. It was a great pleasure to work with you for so many years, we had plenty of success together and we will miss you. We wish you all the best for the future and in GT3 racing.”
Capello will remain as an Audi brand ambassador, joining his previous teammates for the prototype works team, Emanuele Pirro and Marco Werner. The Italian also looks forward to his new adventure in the GT fields in one of the Audi R8 LMS.
At Le Mans this year , Errity wrote in his article these parting words: “Seeing Dindo and Marco talking together, it's hard not to think of the master taking on an apprentice to eventually succeed him as Italy's representative in the dominant sportscar racing team of our era. With Audi, Capello has had a career any driver would be proud of: everything is now in place for Bonanomi to enjoy the same.”