MID OHIO CASINO DOESN’T PAY OUT FOR RISI
Lexington Ohio, August 6, 2011. It was an emotional roller-coaster ride for the Risi Competizione team at the Mid Ohio Sports Car Course today but unfortunately the No.62 Ferrari 458 Italia wasn’t able to fully profit from some brave strategic gambles. Its race ended, under heavy rain, with just 27 minutes of the race to go with damaged left rear suspension after contact with another car.
The conditions had a huge impact on the outcome of the race, but Risi had already suffered from a setback at just under the hour mark. In sunshine and temperatures of 84 degress, Toni Vilander had made an excellent start to the 2 hour 45 minute race and was running second in the highly competitive GT class until his tires began to fade towards the end of the first hour. Badly baulked by a slower competitor, the Finn was unlucky to make contact and was awarded a minute-long penalty for his impatience. This put the Ferrari back to ninth place in class and changed the strategy for the race. Profiting from a well-placed yellow flag and some careful fuel conservation, the team chose to make its only planned stop at 1 hour and 22 minutes into the race.
Jaime Melo took the wheel and set about making up lost ground. He was making great progress when the skies darkened and light rain began to fall. While all the Ferrari’s competitors pitted early, there was much discussion between car and pit about the need and timing for Michelin rain tires as the rain was diminishing and the skies were clearing. The Brazilian eventually came into the pits from first place in class to take on a set of grooved tires at 5:41 pm, taking advantage of a caution period, but losing track position.
As the race went green again, Melo knew he had to take a gamble to pass as many cars as possible and had made up several places before the contact to his left rear put him out of the race.
The team will now put the disappointment of the fifth round behind them and look ahead to the four-hour challenge at the Road America track in Wisconsin in two weeks time.