If success in a career is based on results, then Dindo Capello is part of a very select group. The popular Italian driver has been on the podium in every class of racing he's participated in. However, it's his winning record in sports cars, particularly prototypes, that stands out. Le Mans with Bentley and Audi, Sebring, major circuits all over the world. With Audi's R15 diesel prototype on a limited schedule for the season, Capello's talents were used to develop and campaign Ingolstadt's new entry for the GT3 class, the Audi R8 LMS.
EC: One of the strangest years of your racing career must have been 2009. Sebring, Le Mans, and at the last moment, a management decision to enter Petit Le Mans. What have you been doing to keep busy?
DC: 2009 was very similar to 2003 when I only did testing, Sebring and Le Mans with Bentley. Fortunately this year, Audi Italy had a program. That was a good way to keep me busy.
EC: How did it happen for you to drive the R8 LMS in the Sara GT Championship-was it a surprise or did you know you may get drafted into the GT3 program?
DC: When Audi Sport decided to cancel its participation in ALMS and LMS, I was approached by Audi Italy to race in this championship.
EC: When did you first drive the R8 LMS and where? As you are good friends with Frank Biela, did you speak with him about various setups since he did so much of the testing?
DC: The first time I tested the car was in Vallelunga in February. It happened just by chance because we were testing the R15, but due the poor weather conditions we stopped the test and I was offered a run in the R8 LMS to get an idea for the feeling. For sure I talked with Frank, but due to the limited change that you're allowed there is not so much that can be altered.
EC: How many years has it been since you raced a production-type racecar? Since you have been so successful in prototypes, is it difficult not to be challenging for the overall win?
DC: I occasionally drove a GT car a few years ago. For sure, the feeling is completely different compared to a high-downforce prototype car with more power. And not competing for the overall victory is of course something strange, but on the other hand it is nice to understand how the GT drivers feel with the prototype car, considering the other GT cars around you that you compete against.
EC: What kind of adjustments did you make in order to be competitive with the R8 LMS compared to the prototypes, or are you like your countryman, Alex Zanardi, who just wants to race?
DC: [smiling widely] Due to the different kind of downforce and power in the car you have to adjust your driving style. The main risk, coming from a high-downforce car, is to overdrive the GT3. And as Alex, for sure you would like more power, more downforce, better braking efficiency... in the end you would like to be back in a prototype.
EC: With regard to power, the R8 LMS actually has more than the R8 prototype did during its last season. Are there any areas of similarity between the two cars with regards to predictability, meaning you know what it will do in racing situations?
DC: No, there are no similarities at all. The weight makes a big difference between the two cars, plus the downforce. The car is quite predictable but it is difficult to compare it to the R8 prototype.