Thursday, January 12, 2017

"5-Time Le Mans 24 Hour Winner" Emanuele Pirro Born - January 12, 1962

January 12, 1962
Emanuele Pirro
(photo; wikiwand.com)
Born in Rome, Italy.
Pirro started his racing career in karts at the age of 11. At 18, he raced with the Formula Fiat Abarth, then moving on to European Formula Three, Formula Two and Formula 3000. In 1988, he was the official test driver for the all-conquering McLaren Formula One team. He seemed set to make his Formula One debut at the 1989 French Grand Prix for Larrousse in place of Philippe Alliot but instead was hired by Benetton in place of the unfit Johnny Herbert. While he ran 3rd at Hockenheim before crashing out, his season was generally something of a disappointment, only scoring a single points finish.

He then signed a two-year deal with the Scuderia Italia team to drive their Dallara chassis. His pre-season was affected by a bout of hepatitis and he missed the first two races of 1990, with Gianni Morbidelli taking his place. As it turned out the car wasn't competitive or reliable, though he often spun of his own accord too. Pirro finished only three times from 14 starts, with 10th place in Hungary his best result. 1991 was more promising with Judd V10 engines added to the package. Despite scoring a point at Monaco Pirro was largely outpaced by team-mate JJ Lehto and still had a habit of getting involved in accidents. He was unable to find another Formula One drive for 1992.

After leaving Formula One, Pirro returned to touring car racing, having spent 1986-88 as part of the Schnitzer BMW team in the European Touring Car Championship, as well as the inaugural World Touring Car Championship in 1987. Pirro won the Macau Guia race in 1991 and 1992 at the wheel of a BMW M3 Evolution, and the Italian Touring car championship in 1994 and 1995 driving for Audi.

Further success followed in sports car racing, with three wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in three consecutive years partnered with Frank Biela and Tom Kristensen for Audi Sport Team Joest. Pirro, Frank Biela and Marco Werner made history by becoming the first drivers to win the Le Mans 24-hour race in a diesel-powered car.
(photo credit: Dave Hamster via photopin cc)
Pirro was driving the Audi R10 Diesel when it completed a record 380 laps of the La Sarthe circuit. The team repeated the feat the following year. Alongside teammates Dindo Capello and Allan McNish he won a historic race at Petit Le Mans in 2008, driving for Audi Sport North America.

Pirro retired from racing at the end of the 2008 season, having finished second in the American Le Mans series, and took an ambassadorial role with Audi in 2009. In 2010 he returned to racing as a third driver for private LMP1 Drayson Racing team. He has since competed in races like the V8 Supercar in Australia and the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.
(photo credit: Dave Hamster via photopin cc)
Drayson Racing's Lola B09/60 Driven by Paul Drayson, Jonny Cocker and Emanuele Pirro at the 2010 Le Mans 24 Hours

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