- May 23, 1969
- Not Active
Laurent Aiello is a French former racing driver who competed mostly in the touring car competitions. Between 1994 and 2002, he won four major touring car championships in three countries – French Supertouring Championship, German Supertouring Cup, British Touring Car Championship and DTM.
Aiello also scored three podiums and one win at 24 hours of Le Mans, taking the overall victory in 1998 with factory-entered Porsche 911 GT1, sharing a car with Allan McNish and Stephane Ortelli.
First racing steps in the Formula 3
Laurent Aïello was born on May 23rd, 1969, in Fontenay-aux-Roses, the southwestern suburb of Paris. He started his racing career with karting, winning the French Championship for three years in a row between 1983, 1984 and 1985. He made his car racing debut in 1988 in the Volant Avia.
In 1989, Aïello entered the French Formula 3 Championship, driving for Daniel Gache Racing, In 11 races he scored one podium. The season 1990 was much more successful, as he scored four wins and finished 5th in the championship, driving for Graff Racing. He also won at non-championship Monaco Grand Prix.
Switch to the touring car racing in 1993
In 1991, Aiello stepped up in the international competition, driving in the Formula 3000 for DAMS. With just one podium he finished 15th in the points. In 1992, he changed the team and moved to Pacific Racing, but the results in the Formula 3000 wasn't improved.
Aïello found no more satisfaction in the single-seater racing and he moved to the touring cars in 1993. In his debut year in the French Supertouring Championship (CFS) he scored four wins in 10 races, driving BMW 320i for the Team Oreca. Aiello finished as a runner-up behind Frank Biela.
French Supertouring champion in 1994
Next year, Aïello continued to race in the French Supertouring Championship, driving Peugeot 405 Mi16 for the factory Peugeot team. He dominated on the 1994 championship and scored five wins in 12 races to take his first touring car title.
Due to Peugeot's links with Jordan Grand Prix Formula One team, he participated in the F1 test at Estoril, but he had no intentions to return into the open-wheelers. He stayed with Peugeot and finished third in the 1995 French Supertouring Championship. The champion was Yvan Muller.
German Supertouring champion in 1997
In 1996, Aiello moved to the German Super Tourenwagen Cup, still driving for Peugeot, but in their new 406 car. With three wins in 17 races, Aiello finished third in the points, behind Emanuele Pirro and Steve Soper.
Aiello's second season in Germany was victorious. With 11 wins and 17 podiums in 20 races, he took the 1997 title with a big advantage ahead of Joachim Winkelhock. In 1998, Aiello lost the title in the German Supertouring Championship for just three points behind Johnny Cecotto.
Overall victory at Le Mans in debuting attempt
The highlight of the season, for some the highlight of the career, was Aiello's debut participation at 24 hours of Le Mans in June 1998. Aiello partnered Allan McNish and Stephane Ortelli in the #26 factory entered Porsche 911 GT1 and they won the race ahead of #25 sister car. It was the last Porsche's participation at Le Mans until its return in 2014.
Just one season in the BTCC was enough for the title
In the touring car racing, Aiello switched to the British Touring Car Championship in 1999, immediately taking the championship title in his first and only season in the BTCC. He was driving factory entered Nissan Primera and scored ten wins in 26 races. Aiello's biggest rival was his teammate David Leslie. They finished first and second in the championship, securing the Manufacturer's and Team's titles for Nissan.
The team allowed him to participate in 24 hours of Le Mans with Audi. Aiello's co-drivers in the #7 Audi R8R were Michele Alboreto and Rinaldo Capello. They finished fourth overall and third in the LMP class.
Return to Germany in 2000
After just one season in the BTCC, Aiello returned to Germany in 2000. He entered DTM with Abt Sportsline to drive Audi TT-R. In his debuting DTM season, Aiello's best result was fifth place at Oschersleben and he finished 16th in the points.
The season 2000 was still successful as he scored one more podium at Le Mans 24-hour race. The winning drivers from 1998 (Aiello/McNish/Ortelli) were together again in the Audi Sport Team Joest's Audi R8 and they fought for the victory against two similar cars. Frank Biela, Tom Kristensen and Emanuele Pirro won the race, the #9 car driven by Aiello, McNish and Ortelli finished second.
Four DTM wins at Nürburgring
In 2001, the Audi TT-R was more competitive in the DTM and Aiello improved his results. He took his first victory in the second round at Nürburgring, winning both sprint race and main race. He repeated that success in the seventh round, again at Nürburgring. With four wins Aiello finished 5th in the points.
In June 2001, Aïello participated for the last time at 24 hours of Le Mans. His co-drivers in the #2 Audi R8 were Rinaldo Capello and Christian Pescatori. Kristensen/Biela/Pirro again won the race, so Aiello and his teammates had to be satisfied with second place. Earlier that year, Aiello partnered Rinaldo Capello and Michele Alboreto in the victory at 12 hours of Sebring.
2002 DTM champion with Audi TT-R
Aïello reached the peak in the DTM in 2002, winning the title ahead of reigning champion Bernd Schneider. Aiello's Audi TT-R was victorious in eight races. In 2002, Aiello didn't participate in the Le Mans race, although he had an initial agreement to compete.
One more season with Audi in the DTM followed in 2003. Aiello scored his last DTM victory at beloved Nürburgring and finished 6th in the final classification.
Last DTM seasons with Opel
In 2004, Laurent joined OPC Team Phoenix to drive Opel Vectra GTS V8. In ten races his best result was fourth place at Lausitzring and he finished 10th in the points. The fourth place at Lausitzring was also Aiello's best result in2005, his second season with Opel and the last season in the DTM. It was also Aiello last active season in a career.
In recent years, he occasionally appeared as a guest driver in few races. In 2013, he competed in the Volkswagen Scirocco R Cup. In 2014, he was driving Porsche 911 GT3 Cup in the French Carrera Cup and at Le Mans support race.