After 15 years of hustling factory Audi race cars around tracks the world over, Emanuele Pirro will have his last run in the R10 TDI this weekend at the American Le Mans Series' final race at Laguna Seca. The Italian driver first hooked up with Audi in 1994 running in the Italian and German Touring Car Championships where he won titles three years in a row. Later he moved over into sports cars where he has spent the last decade driving the R8 and R10 TDI. Over that span, he and his teammates have conquered the 24 hours of Le Mans five times including the first victory by a diesel-powered car in the 2006 R10. Pirro's most recent victory came just two weeks ago at the Petit Le Mans where he teamed with Alan McNish and Dindo Capello to storm back from two laps down to defeat the Peugeot 908 HDi. Pirro is also an avid pilot, so he'll probably be getting more of his thrills in the air now.
It's not known if Pirro is retiring completely from competition or just leaving his team, but he will continue to be a brand ambassador for Audi, a task at which he should excel. Having met the man on several occasions, I can say first hand that he is very warm, friendly and personable and almost always has a big smile on his face.
Final race for Emanuele Pirro in Audi R10 TDI
# Italian driver ends 15-year career chapter
# Five Le Mans victories and touring and sportscar titles for Audi
Ingolstadt/Laguna Seca – Emanuele Pirro will race an Audi sports prototype for the last time in his career at the American Le Mans Series finale on 18 October at Laguna Seca. The Italian has served the brand since 1994 and is one of the most successful Audi factory drivers ever with three touring car titles, two sportscar championship victories in the American Le Mans Series and five wins in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich and the 46-year old Audi factory driver Emanuele Pirro had already reached an agreement some time ago about the end of the Italian's active career for Audi at the 2008 American Le Mans Series season finale. Included among Pirro's outstanding victories under the banner of the four rings are the Italian Touring Car Championship (1994 and 1995), the German Touring Car Championship (1996), the 24 Hours of Le Mans (2000, 2001, 2002, 2006 and 2007) and the American Le Mans Series (2001, 2005).
"On behalf of the Audi motorsport squad and the entire AUDI AG I would like to extend our thanks to Emanuele Pirro for the excellent and extremely successful cooperation over the last 15 years," explains Dr Wolfgang Ullrich of Pirro who became the first driver to be signed during his time as Head of Audi Motorsport since 1993. "Throughout this extraordinarily long relationship many personal experiences and great memories of fantastic individual race wins and championship victories with Audi touring and sportscar unite us still today."
"A wonderful chapter of my life and career comes to a close," explains Emanuele Pirro. "Even as hopeless optimist, at the very beginning I would never have dreamt of spending 15 such fantastic and wonderfully successful years with Audi on both a personal and professional level. I want to pass on my sincerest gratitude to Audi Sport and all the teams for who I have driven – ROC Competition, Audi Sport Italia, Team Joest and Champion Racing and also all my team mates during this time."
In order to nurture this prosperous and successful cooperation Audi has opened the possibility for Emanuele Pirro to act as brand ambassador in the future. Audi successfully implemented the rejuvenation of the sportscar programme driver squad in 2006 with the signing of Lucas Luhr (winner of the LM P1 class in the 2008 American Le Mans Series together with Marco Werner), Alexandre Prémat and Mike Rockenfeller (joint winners of the Le Mans Series 2008) and continued it this year with races for Marcel Fässler and Christijan Albers.