Dindo Capello has officially announced his retirement from prototype racing after a glittering career that includes three victories in the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Having suggested at the Circuit de la Sarthe last month, where he finished second alongside Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish, that the time had come to stand aside from his role with Audi's LMP1 programme.

Capello has now confirmed that the 2012 Le Mans 24 Hours was his final appearance for the factory team, with the 48-year-old having had an agreement with Audi that he would be able to quit after the French classic.

As such, Capello's time as a full-blown factory Audi driver comes with his sitting top of the World Endurance Championship standings alongside Kristensen and McNish with the trio having finished on the podium in all three races run so far this season - including a victory in the opening round of the year at Sebring.

Although his time with the factory team is now at an end, Capello will continue to have strong links with the manufacturer as both an Audi dealer in his native Italy and also at the wheel of an Audi R8 LMS Ultra in the Italian GT Championship.

"I would like to address a really, really big thank you to Audi on my part," Capello said. "Audi has become my brand - professionally and based on my personal conviction. Together, we have achieved so much and demonstrated pioneering achievements again and again. The support from Audi, all employees at Audi Sport and the teams was fantastic, just like in a big family.

"Naturally, there is a feeling of sadness too, as this departure from the factory team is not easy. But I remain associated with the brand and will continue to contest races because the Audi R8 LMS ultra is a wonderful GT3 vehicle. I am saying goodbye with a clear conscience because I have no unfinished business with my sport. In all disciplines and categories, Audi and I together have achieved the maximum with victories and titles.

"As late as in March, we won at Sebring and I'm currently ranking in first place of the WEC standings. I wanted to quit at a time when I was still able to show top performances. This is a pleasant feeling. Should Audi ever get into a situation in which I'm needed I'll of course be ready to assist."

Audi Motorsport boss Dr Wolfgang Ullrich was quick to pay tribute to Capello, who had been part of the Audi family for the best part of two decades.

"This is an extremely unusual string of successes and a very emotional moment," he said. "On behalf of Audi I would like to express a huge thank you to Dindo. Dindo was at the top of the sport for 19 years and all employees at Audi Sport were pleased to make this possible for him. I am proud of both.

"In terms of the sport as well as in a personal and professional sense - it has always been a pleasure to work with Dindo and to know that he was part of our team. He is a valuable brand ambassador and we are delighted to see him continue to be associated with Audi after the end of his active career."

Capello won at Le Mans for Bentley in 2003, Audi Sport Team Goh in 2004 and then with the factory Audi Sport North America team in 2008. In total, he finished on the overall podium an astonishing ten times in 14 appearances.

The Italian also won the American Le Mans Series title on two occasions and picked up five victories in both the Sebring Twelve Hours and the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta - the latter being a record-breaking figure ahead of long-time partner McNish.



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