Laguna Seca ALMS will be my last race with an Audi prototype. The agreement to end this part of my career together with the R10 TDI was taken a long time ago with Dr. Ullrich as Audi is preparing their future with a new generation of...
Laguna Seca ALMS will be my last race with an Audi prototype.
The agreement to end this part of my career together with the R10 TDI was taken a long time ago with Dr. Ullrich as Audi is preparing their future with a new generation of drivers.
A wonderful chapter of my life and career comes to an end. It is time to turn the page.
Now I have to deal with my "incurable" passion and enthusiasm that wants me to continue racing. I feel I still have a great deal of competitiveness and experience to offer.
I have to take crucial decisions within the next few weeks: Do I stop racing and keep using my experience and knowledge in promoting the Audi brand, from whom I received a lot and gave as much, with the same passion and intensity that I have so far but from another perspective; or do I use my knowledge and experience in taking other interesting and challenging racing opportunities that are available to me? Tough call!
In this respect I would like to sincerely thank all those who made me extremely interesting offers in the past two years, those with whom I am negotiating at the present moment and those who will contact me in the future. To all of them goes my great appreciation and gratitude.
I consider Le Mans and the ALMS as my home after so many years and it is there where I would like to continue my involvement.
When I retired from F1 at the age of 30, I believed that the best part of my career, if not all of it, was over and I could never have imagined (even being an "eternal optimistic") that I still had 15 wonderful years with Audi to come, full of personal and professional success.
These 15 years with Audi are full of wonderful memories. It seems like yesterday when I put the Audi 80 STW on pole at my first race in 1994 and won the Italian Super Touring Car championship for two years in a row; the following year 1996 I went to Germany and secured the German Super Touring Car title that Audi had never won before in their home country.
Then in 1999 we started a very secret project; our Le Mans "adventure" where Frank Biela, Didier Theys and I ended up third in our first attempt, since then, until 2007, I never stepped off the Le Mans podium; driving with different teammates in my beloved race.
The following three years that brought consecutive wins with Tom Kristensen and Frank, especially the first win for Audi in 2000 and the first with an FSI engine in 2001, are unforgettable.
When I heard that we were going to develop and enter a Diesel powered car for Le Mans I was dreaming to be the first driver to win that race with such an unusual technology for high performance racing. What happened was, not only that we won the French Classic at the first attempt, but also in the following year, with Marco Werner and my ever loyal Frank Biela.
But, even the best fairy tales come to an end!
I would sincerely say a big THANK YOU to Audi Sport and my Audi Teams, ROC Competition, Audi Sport Italia, Team Joest and Champion Racing who made me feel at home and gave me much more than just very competitive race cars.
Another big THANK YOU goes to all my team mates without whom I could not have achieved these results.
I will miss Frank with his consistency and reliability, Tom with his professionalism, Marco with his natural talent , Dindo with his character, humor and sincerity and Allan with his speed.
Whatever happens I take this opportunity to sincerely thank all the great people I came across in my successful and, beyond imagination, long career that contributed and helped me to get to this point.
Also I would like to wish Audi Sport and its drivers all the best.
-credit: emanuele pirro