The American Le Mans Series rolled in to the Monterey Peninsula to conclude what has been the most politically contentious yet most competitive season in the series' history. The lighter, more nimble LMP2 Porsche RS Spyders have had the measure of the Audi R10 TDIs on most of the shorter American circuits. This should not come as any surprise, as the LMP1-category Audi was built for Le Mans and not a street course like Long Beach. It made for some incredible close racing between the Penske Porsche Panzers and the Audi diesel brigade. Laguna Seca should have been a Porsche parade, but the will of Allan McNish and Dindo Capello aboard their Audi R10 TDI changed all that. From his fifth spot on the grid, McNish reeled in the Porsches after half a dozen laps and Capello completed the magical mystery tour at the four-hour mark by a margin of 0.410 seconds over the #7 Porsche. Usually, end-of-season affairs are anti-climatic; not so with Laguna Seca's race-into-darkness approach. The sight of the lead cars, lights ablaze, working through traffic on this twisty California circuit was intense, over the top and emotional.
Dindo Capello: A Quick Look Back
Interview by Kerry Morse
EC: Both Petit Le Mans and Laguna Seca were decided in your favor by less than a second after hours of racing. Have you ever experienced anything like this before as a driver?
DC: It has happened few times in my career, especially when I was driving a single-seater or a touring car. The big difference is that I had never fought for one hour until the end of the race always against the same car and same driver. To finish that way for two straight races was something.
EC: You have a great deal of experience at Road Atlanta running in the darkness. Laguna Seca has only recently added this part of racing in to the dusk. How difficult is it to make that transition on a track that has very few lights?
DC: It's important to be in the car during the transition. It would be much more difficult to jump in the car when it's already dark. Even if you know the track well, it's not easy to quickly find some reference point if you have to start in the dark. You need some laps [to adjust], which costs time, and if you are fighting with a driver who was already in the car during the transition, it is that much more difficult. Experience helps make the learning process shorter.
EC: Compared to the R8, the R10 seems to be highly sensitive to grip issues. On one stint with one set of tires, you seem to have grip, and then after a tire change, low grip and understeer. Is this unique to the diesel and its torque or is the R10 just a difficult car to set up to your liking?
DC: Sometimes I was thinking the problem was due the difficulties to set up the R10 TDI compared to the R8, but then I have seen that Porsche and other cars gain and lose performance during the race like we do. That makes me think the cause is the very small working window with the new generation Michelin tires compared to the past. It is a better performance tire, but more difficult to choose the right compound for any condition.
EC: You and McNish have grown together as a driving pair and the last two races it seems to make no difference as to who starts and who finishes a race. To what do you attribute this? Are there other teams with this sort of chemistry?
DC: To be honest, we never plan on who has to start and who has to finish. We just decide who will qualify for the race and after that we follow a very easy procedure. We are lucky that we are both good enough to drive on almost all the tracks without choosing which circuits would be the best for Allan or for me. We just follow our rule: one race each.
EC: What are your top five memorable moments from the 2007 season?