Rinaldo Dindo Capello is an Italian racing driver who was very successful in endurance racing, winning three times at 24 hours of Le Mans, five times at 12 hours of Sebring and he took American Le Mans Series titles two times. Capello spent most of his career as an Audi factory driver. He retired from racing at the end of 2015.
Five seasons in the Italian Formula 3
Rinaldo Capello was born on June 17, 1964, in Asti in the northwestern Italy. He started racing at the age of 12 with go-karts, switching to bigger single-seaters in 1983. His first competition was the Formula Fiat Abarth. In 1985, Capello debuted in the Italian Formula 3, driving a Ralt RT30 (Volkswagen) for Prema Racing. Unfortunately, he suffered severe injuries in a crash during the second round, so he skipped an almost entire season.
In 1986, Capello returned to Formula 3 grid with Ravarotto Racing, finishing eighth in the points. He achieved the same result in 1987, driving for Coloni Racing. In 1988, again driving for Ravarotto Racing, Capello recorded his best result in Formula 3, finishing fourth in the Italian championship. He started the 1989 season with Luciano Pavesi Team, but a short budget forced him to skip most of the races.
Switching to touring car races in 1990
In 1990, Capello changed motorsport discipline, entering two different touring car championships. He won Group A Touring Car Championship with Emilio Radaelli's Volkswagen Golf and participated in the Italian Supertouring Championship with New Race Team's Alfa Romeo 75 Turbo, where he finished in sixth place.
In the next couple of years, he was driving different cars in touring car races (VW Golf, BMW M3, VW Vento) but also participated in selected rounds of the Porsche Carrera Cup Germany or Porsche Supercup.
Capello started to race with Audi in 1992
Capello's relationship with Audi started in 1992 when he was driving Audi 80 Quattro in the Italian touring car races. He was using that car not only in Italy but also when he participated in the 1994 German ADAC Tourenwagen Cup. In 1995, Audi A4 was Capello's car. He participated at 1995 FIA Touring Car World Cup where he finished in 11th place.
Italian touring car champion in 1996
The first notable success with Audi came in 1995, when Capello finished second in the Italian championship, losing a title to Audi Sport teammate Emanuele Pirro. Next year, Capello was a champion, after winning seven races with Audi A4 and beating BMW's Johnny Cecotto by six points.
In 1997, Capello was again near the top, finishing third in the championship with Audi A4, behind BMW's Emanuele Naspetti and Alfa Romeo's Fabrizio Giovanardi. Capello's last season in touring car competition was in 1998 when he finished fifth in the Italian championship.
Le Mans debut with McLaren F1 GTR
In June 1998, Rinaldo debuted at 24 hours of Le Mans. He joined Emanuele Pirro and Thomas Bscher in the #41 McLaren F1 GTR of Gulf Team Davidoff. Their teammates in the #40 car finished in fourth place, Capello and his co-drivers didn't reach the finish line, they crashed out after 228 laps.
Capello joined Audi prototype program in 1999
In 1999, Capello didn't participate in touring cars races, instead, he started his endurance racing career. He joined Audi Sport Team Joest at two endurance classics – Sebring 12 hours and Le Mans 24 hours. At Sebring, Capello, Michele Alboreto and Stefan Johansson finished third overall with #77 Audi R8R. At Le Mans, Capello's co-drivers in the #7 Audi R8R were Michele Alboreto and Laurent Aiello. They finished fourth overall.
Championship runner-up in his first ALMS season
In 2000, Capello's schedule expanded to full season in the American Le Mans Series. He started a year with a second place at Sebring, sharing the #77 Audi R8 with Allan McNish and Michele Alboreto. With six wins in ALMS Prototype class, Capello finished second in the points, behind his teammate Allan McNish.
At 2000 Le Mans 24h, Capello's co-drivers in the #7 Audi R8 were Alboreto and Christian Abt. They finished third overall, behind two other Audi R8s.
First Sebring 12h victory in 2001
In 2001, Capello had a similar program, racing with Audi Sport North America full season in the American Le Mans Series and competing in selected European races, including 24h Le Mans. In March 2001, Capello scored his maiden Sebring 12h victory, together with Michele Alboreto and Laurent Aiello in the #1 Audi R8. In the final ALMS standings, Capello finished third, behind teammates Emanuele Pirro and Frank Biela.
Second Sebring victory in 2002
Rinaldo Capello defended his Sebring victory in 2002. This time, his co-drivers in the #2 Audi R8 were Christian Pescatori and Johnny Herbert. Capello had the same partners at 2002 Le Mans 24h, where they finished in second place.
In the 2002 ALMS season, Capello's co-driver was Tom Kristensen. Kristensen became the champion, Capello collected two points less than the Danish driver and finished as a runner-up.
Maiden 24 hours of Le Mans victory with Bentley
In 2003, Audi officially pulled out from endurance racing so Capello had to choose between private teams with Audi R8 cars or Bentley, which had an engineering support from Joest Racing and was using Audi engine in the Bentley Speed 8 prototype. Capello joined Team Bentley, participating in two races during that year.
At Sebring 12 hours, Capello, Guy Smith and Tom Kristensen finished in fourth place. And then, in June, Capello scored his maiden Le Mans victory, driving the #7 Bentley Speed 8 together with Smith and Kristensen.
Second Le Mans victory with Japanese team
In 2004, because Audi wasn't competing, Capello and Kristensen joined Japanese Team Goh to participate in the Le Mans Endurance Series and at Le Mans 24h. Capello and Kristensen scored their second consecutive win at 24h Le Mans, together with Seiji Ara as a third driver in the #5 Audi R8. By the end of the season, Capello scored three podiums and finished fifth in the Le Mans Endurance Series standings.
A season in the DTM
In 2005, Capello temporary moved out from endurance racing, participating in the DTM with Audi. He was driving the #18 Audi A4 for Audi Sport Team Joest, finishing 20th in the points among twenty drivers. His best result was the 10th place in Brno and Oschersleben.
Diesel-powered return to endurance racing
In 2006, Capello participated in Audi revolutionary return to endurance racing with a diesel-powered prototype, the Audi R10 TDI. Together with Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish, he won Sebring 12 hours, the season-opening race of the American Le Mans Series. Capello and McNish scored eight wins in ten races, dominantly winning LMP1 ALMS title.
At 24 hours of Le Mans, Capello, Kristensen and McNich finished in third place, behind teammates in the #8 Audi R10 TDI and Pescarolo's C60 Hybrid.
2007 - second ALMS title in a row
In 2007, Audi again dominated in the American Le Mans Series, with Rinaldo Capello and Allan McNish winning nine races in the #1 Audi R10 TDI. At the season-opening Sebring 12h, they finished fourth.
Capello returned to Le Mans in June 2007, sharing the #2 Audi with McNish and Kristensen. They were in the lead when Capello had an accident before the completion of the 17th hour. He lost a left rear wheel at high speed at the Indianapolis corner, hitting a tire barrier.
Capello scored third Le Mans victory in 2008
In 2008, the highlight of the season was Capello's third victory at 24 hours of Le Mans. His co-drivers were Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish. For Kristensen, it was his 8th win at Le Mans. McNish scored his second win.
In the remainder of the season, Capello scored three wins in two competitions (American Le Mans Series and Le Mans Series), finishing fifth in the ALMS standings and third in the LMS standings.
Fourth Sebring victory with Audi R15 TDI
Audi introduced a new car for the 2009 season, the R15 TDI. Capello, Kristensen and McNish won the race in car's debut at Sebring. It was fourth Sebring victory for Capello. He participated in one more ALMS race later in the season, at Petit Le Mans and he concentrated on the Italian GT Championship during the year. He was driving Audi R8 LMS for Audi Sport Italia, finishing third in the points. His co-driver for most of the season was Giorgio Sanna, with Filipe Albuquerque as a replacement in one race.
At 2009 Le Mans 24h, the #1 Audi R15 TDI of Capello, Kristensen and McNish finished in third place, behind two Peugeot 908 HDI prototypes.
GT racing in focus since 2010
In 2010, Capello focused mostly on GT racing, participating in selected races with prototypes. He and McNish won the Le Mans Series race at Circuit Paul Ricard. The trio Capello/Kristensen/McNish finished 3rd at Spa 1000km and 24 hours of Le Mans. In America, Capelo participated at Petit Le Mans only, finishing third.
In the Italian GT Championship, he spent 2010 season at the wheel of #51 Audi R8 LMS, sharing the car with Gianluca Giraudi. With one victory, Capello finished ninth in the points.
Fourth place in the 2011 Italian GT Championship
In 2011, Capello continued to combine GT races with Audi R8 LMS and prototype races with Audi R18 TDI. He scored no podiums or wins at the biggest races, finishing fourth at Sebring 12 hours and not finishing at Le Mans 24h. At Circuit de la Sarthe, the race lasted only 14 laps for #3 Audi R18 TDI before Allan McNish violently crashed near the Dunlop Bridge.
Sebring victory and Le Mans podium before saying 'goodbye'
The season of 2012 was Capello's last with Audi endurance racing team. He marked that year with one more Sebring victory (fifth in a career) and his tenth finish at Le Mans podium (including three wins). Capello scored his fifth win at Sebring with longstanding partners Allan McNish and Tom Kristensen, proving once more that the trio deserves a place in a history of endurance racing as one of the most successful crews ever. In their last participation at Le Mans, they finished second, one lap behind teammates in the #1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro.
Italian GT Championship until the end of a career
In 2012, Capello continued to drive Audi R8 LMS in the Italian GT Championship, sharing the car with Andrea Sonvico. Capello finished 8th in the points. In 2013, again with Sonvico, Capello finished 10th in the final standings. Capello dropped to 14th place in the 2014 Italian GT Championship classification, after sharing the car with Emanuele Zonzini.
Capello's last season in the GT racing followed in 2015. With Zonzini as a co-driver, Capello scored four podiums and finished 13th in the points.
Six victories at Monza Rally Show
While competing on racing circuits all over the world with prototypes, GT cars and touring cars, Capello was also competing in stage rallying. In 1998, he became a regular guest at Rally di Monza (now Monza Rally Show), recording thirteen participations and six wins until 2013.
In his first participation at 1998 Rally di Monza, he finished in second place driving the Subaru Impreza 555. In 1999, he recorded his first victory, driving Subaru Impreza S4 WRC 98. In 2000, driving Subaru Impreza S5 WRC 99, he defended a victory.
Capello returned to Monza Rally Show in 2004 with Škoda Fabia WRC, scoring his third win. In 2005, with the same car, he was the winner again. Capello won two more times at Monza Rally Show, in 2008 with Ford Focus RS WRC and in 2009 with Citroen C4 WRC. From 2011 to 2013, he was driving Citroen DS3 WRC.
Dindo Capello - 24 hours of Le Mans results
|Year||Team||Co-drivers||Car||Class||Overall result||Class result|
|1998||Gulf Team Davidoff||Thomas Bscher, Emanuele Pirro||McLaren F1 GTR||GT1||DNF||DNF|
|1999||Audi Sport Team Joest||Michele Alboreto, Laurent Aiello||Audi R8R||LMP||4th||3rd|
|2000||Audi Sport Team Joest||Michele Alboreto, Christian Abt||Audi R8||LMP900||3rd||3rd|
|2001||Audi Sport North America||Laurent Aiello, Christian Pescatori||Audi R8||LMP900||2nd||2nd|
|2002||Audi Sport North America||Johnny Herbert, Christian Pescatori||Audi R8||LMP900||2nd||2nd|
|2003||Team Bentley||Guy Smith,Tom Kristensen||Bentley Speed 8||LMGTP||1st||1st|
|2004||Audi Sport Japan Team Goh||Seiji Ara, Tom Kristensen||Audi R8||LMP1||1st||1st|
|2006||Audi Sport Team Joest||Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish||Audi R10 TDI||LMP1||3rd||3rd|
|2007||Audi Sport North America||Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish||Audi R10 TDI||LMP1||DNF||DNF|
|2008||Audi Sport North America||Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish||Audi R10 TDI||LMP1||1st||1st|
|2009||Audi Sport Team Joest||Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish||Audi R15 TDI||LMP1||3rd||3rd|
|2010||Audi Sport Team Joest||Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish||Audi R15 TDI plus||LMP1||3rd||3rd|
|2011||Audi Sport North America||Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish||Audi R18 TDI||LMP1||DNF||DNF|
|2012||Audi Sport Team Joest||Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish||Audi R18 e-tron quattro||LMP1||2nd||2nd|