Friday, July 3, 2015

Audi Sport Italia titles in Superturismo - Emanuele Pirro and Dindo Capello became Audi legends

By Tarek Ramchani

Audi had an amazing and very successful factory effort in the Campionato Italiano Superturismo (Italian Super Touring Championship). It was one of the strongest national Touring Car championships in the golden era of Super Touring with many brands represented by competitive works teams and drivers.

The Audi cars were entered by the very strong Audi Sport Italia team. The Ingolstadt brand won three straight championship titles with two legendary cars and two lengendary drivers.

Here is a detailed look back at Audi's titles in the demanding Italian based Touring Car series.

It all started in the year 1994. Audi entered the Italian Super Touring Championship with two factory Audi 80 Competition quattros. The first car was driven by Emanuele Pirro, the sister machine was in the hands of Dindo Capello. A third driver joined the team in the second half of the season, Frank Biela.

Audi Sport Italia took no less than nine victories in twenty races that year. Six with Emanuele Pirro, two with Frank Biela and one with Dindo Capello. The Audi 80 Competition was simply the best car in the field.

Emanuele Pirro won a fully deserved drivers' championship title with a total of 269.5 points. Team-mate Dindo Capello ended the 1994 season in fifth place collecting 141 points. Frank Biela managed to take the eleventh place despite competing in only four rounds.

A year later, a legendary machine debuted in the Campionato Italiano Superturismo. 1995 saw the debut of the all conquering Audi A4 STW quattro. Audi Sport Italia was back to the series with two cars and with the same driver line-up, Emanuele Pirro and Dindo Capello. A third car has been entered that year for Tamara Vidali as a guest starter.

Both drivers and the new A4 STW quattro were simply flying and dominated the strong rivals from Alfa Romeo and BMW. The Audi drivers took no less than fourteen race victories in the 1995 season. Emanuele Pirro scored a total of eleven wins and Dindo Capello was victorious three times.

Title defended for Emanuele Pirro who clinched a back-to-back championship crown with a total of 317 points. A 1-2 Audi Sport Italia as team-mate Dindo Capello ended in second place with 253 points.

For the 1996 season there was a slight change in Audi Sport Italia's line-up. The team was back with a two car effort, one for Dindo Capello and the other for Yvan Muller from France who replaced Emanuele Pirro. The team entered cars for Frank Biela, Emanuele Pirro and Philip Peter in the closing stages of the season.

The season started very well for the Italian Audi squad. Dindo Capello clinched six straight victories. However in the second half of the season BMW's Emanuele Naspetti dominated the field and challenged Dindo Capello for the overall title.

That title was decided in the season finale at Vallelunga. Dindo Capello who scored a total of seven wins that year took the title with 250 points, six more than his rival Emanuele Naspetti. Yvan Muller was fourth overall with several podium finishes and total of 187 points.

Dindo Capello's title was the third and final title for Audi Sport Italia in the Italian Superturismo. Audi Sport Italia took part in the 1997 and 1998 season but was not been able to fight for the championship title.

Photo credit: Audi Sport Italia