ENDURANCE CHAMPIONS READY FOR ALMS FINALE Houston, Tx, October 5, 2009. Fresh from their GT victory at a rain-soaked Petit Le Mans -- the team's fifth consecutive endurance win -- Risi Competizione heads to the popular Californian track for ...
ENDURANCE CHAMPIONS READY FOR ALMS FINALE
Houston, Tx, October 5, 2009. Fresh from their GT victory at a rain-soaked Petit Le Mans -- the team's fifth consecutive endurance win -- Risi Competizione heads to the popular Californian track for the tenth and final round of the 2009 American Le Mans Series hoping for all-out success.
Jaime Melo and Pierre Kaffer are currently lying in second place in the Drivers' Championship and, although the mountain is steep, there is still a chance of climbing onto the top if they score a win or a second place at Laguna Seca and their rivals, Jorg Bergmeister and Pat Long of Flying Lizard Motorsports, finish lower than 10th in class.
Built on a former US Army base, the 2.238 mile Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is challenging for drivers and engineers alike, with its 11 turns and many ups and downs. The famous Corkscrew turn, a steep drop away over a blind 90-degree left-hand bend that immediately sweeps away to the right, is one of the highlights here and is an awesome place to watch the drivers in action. The track is also notoriously slippery due to the sand surrounding the asphalt, which is often either blown on or brought onto the track by another car. A fast lap here takes every ounce of skill that a driver possesses.
Risi's Technical Director, Rick Mayer, acknowledges that a further championship title for the team is a long shot, but points out, "It's a long race (4 hours) and it will be tight on fuel for a three-stop strategy. Last year there were numerous yellows, making strategy a bit of a crap shoot, and the same could easily happen in 2009.
"The Corvettes, BMWs and Porsches will all be competitive here. The lack of long straits and several long corners play to the Ferrari's handling advantage, and our lack of top end power shouldn't hurt us as much here as at other tracks. We ran well here the last three years, with two wins and a second so we're hoping the trend continues."
Approaching the end of his first full season in the ALMS, Pierre Kaffer is keen to follow up on his recent run of good race outings and to sign off the season in style: "It's unfortunately the last race of season; unfortunate because I had so much fun with the Risi team and my team mate this year. It would be nice to put everything together again for next year!
"As far as the Championship is concerned, you never know what will happen in motorsport. We will try our best of course and we'll have to see where Jorg and Pat finish. If they finish better than 10th, then they deserve to be champions. We have no influence on this point. I think we've done a really good job in the last few races, and it's just a shame that our non-finish [due to suspension failure] at St Petersburg hurt us so bad in the points' tables."
Risi Competizione is a Houston-based Ferrari racing team lead by Managing Director Giuseppe Risi. Official team sponsors include Motorola, Boardwalk Auto Group, AdShip, Ferrari Financial Services and Ferrari of Houston.
The final race in the 2009 American Le Mans Series is the four-hour Monterey Sports Car Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif.