Emanuele Pirro brought his successful career with Audi to an end in 2008, bowing out following the ALMS season finale at Laguna Seca – where he finished second.
In all, the Italian took two ALMS titles and five Le Mans 24 Hour wins during his time with the team, and also enjoyed success in touring cars prior to his switch to sportscar competition.
spoke to him about what the future may now hold...
You brought the curtain down on a glittering career in 2008. Was it a tough decision to make?
Oh yeah, indeed. I love racing so much and I have been doing this forever! I am almost 47-years-old and I started out when I was just 11-years-old in karts. You have to say at one stage that it is time to stop and I always wanted to stop at a high level.
In a way it is sad, but I have to get used to it and I will be staying in motorsport and staying with Audi representing the brand. That's life. You have your last day at school, you have your last day at university and you have your last day of racing. I have many interests and lots of things to do, so my challenges are not over.
That final season was in the ALMS where Audi has brought through some of its next generation of drivers. How do you feel your final season went?
It was really good; not so much in terms of good luck but because there were very many good races. I was really happy with the last season and the last race especially so I have no regrets. I have to say that we are a group of drivers, the Audi drivers, who have been together for many years. We are all old, but we have been bonded together so successfully that we have been hanging on for a long time.
I am the oldest, Frank Biela is 44, Dindo Capello is 44 and Tom Kristensen is 41 or something – so we are all, how should I put it, well grown-up. Audi has to look for the next generation of drivers but we have been doing good things together for many years and we still perform. So it is a difficult decision.
How difficult do you think you will find it this season when we get to Sebring and the new R15 is on track for its debut and you aren't there behind the wheel? Will it be quite tough?
This is a really good question. Now I am a retired driver, at least at this level, but it is the winter and the season is over so I am only doing what I would be doing every winter with no driving. The tough time will start, or I will probably realise how tough it is, when the season starts. I don't know if I will go to Sebring, but I want to go to Le Mans because it is a place where I have had so many good memories and I would like to go and watch the race there.