EARLY END TO RISI'S CHAMPIONSHIP BID AT LAGUNA SECA
Risi Competizione's bid for 2009 ALMS GT Championship honors came to a premature end one hour and 24 minutes into the season-ending four-hour race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca today.
While holding a strong lead in the class, Pierre Kaffer's Ferrari F430 GT had contact with the #33 Jaguar XKR which severely damaged the left front section of the car including the radiator. With soaring water temperatures and leaking water, the car was retired from the race bringing about a bitterly disappointing end to the season.
The Risi Ferrari made a great start to the race, holding a steady position behind the two Corvettes for the first 32 laps and consistently turning times which were quicker than any of its competitors. At the second full course caution period, 49 minutes into the race, all the leading GT competitors including the #62 car came into the pits for their first stops.
The Risi Competizione team carried out a superbly slick pit stop, refuelling and changing all four Michelin tires in a time that enabled them to leave the pits ahead of the two Corvettes. As the course went green again, and the race settled into its normal pattern, Kaffer took the lead in the class -- a position he was holding when the contact with the Jaguar occurred.
An upset and disappointed Pierre Kaffer said: "The Jaguar was in front of me as we came through the Corkscrew and Turns 9 and 10. I expected him to stay on the right side of the track, on the normal racing line, but he suddenly decided to go to the pits and crossed in front of me. I couldn't anticipate that and I touched him. Unfortunately our radiator was broken because of this.
"I really have to say thanks to all the guys. They did an awesome job in the pit stop which made us track position and it was the key to us leading the race. We had swapped to the soft tire and the car was just perfect. I want to thank everyone at Risi, Ferrari, Michelin and all our sponsors for the whole season; I have really enjoyed it."
Jaime Melo, who did not drive today, added: "I knew that if Pierre could keep up with the Corvettes, and we pitted at the same time as them, we could beat them out. Our guys did a very good job which made a big difference for us. After that I knew the car was good and Pierre was pulling away from Jan. My team mate did an excellent job today but it's a very disappointing way to end the season."