RISI COMPETIZIONE CLINCHES GT2 FRONT ROW SPOT The Houston, Texas-based team clinched a front row spot in the GT2 class for tomorrow's Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park, Mika Salo leaving it late in the 20-minute qualifying session before...
RISI COMPETIZIONE CLINCHES GT2 FRONT ROW SPOT
The Houston, Texas-based team clinched a front row spot in the GT2 class for tomorrow's Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park, Mika Salo leaving it late in the 20-minute qualifying session before setting his fastest time of 54.720 seconds in his Le Mans-winning Ferrari 430 GT.
In fact, the #62 car left it late to enter the qualifying session at all as the Finn had put a wheel off on the fastest corner of the newly configured and repaved 1.51 mile track towards the end of the afternoon practice session, run just prior to qualifying. Speedy repair work on the front splitter and brake ducts had to be carried out by the Risi Competizione mechanics and the Ferrari joined qualifying nine minutes into the session. It took the flying Finn just five laps before he set his quick time.
Mika Salo said afterward: "Considering that we had such broken up practice sessions [because of numerous red flag interruptions] it was okay. The [Farnbacher] Porsche is so far ahead, more than half a second ahead of us, and there's no way I could have done that lap time in these conditions. The car is really fine and if we can lap at this sort of time consistently in the race it will be good. It gives us confidence for the race."
The track conditions were the hot topic in the paddock and Salo commented, "The race will be more difficult than ever. The traffic will be the same as always, of course, but there will be more sand and dirt on the track so it will be more like a rally cross race -- a survival game as usual."
Patrick Friesacher, a newcomer to Lime Rock Park like his team mate Harrison Brix, had endured the same practice frustrations as all other competitors. To compound the lack of track time due to the many incidents that befell competitors up and down the pitlane during the two hours of practice, a light sprinkling of rain started just before qualifying and continued after the green flag dropped. The Austrian's quickest time of 55.458 seconds put him in p7 on the GT2 grid, but left him feeling disappointed.
"I am a little bit disappointed with qualifying. In the beginning it was raining a bit so I didn't want to take any risk, just wanted to stay on the track. The tires didn't come in very quickly so I had to drive and drive and then at the end we had a fuel pick up problem so I had to stop in the pits. We had fuel in the tank but it told us that there was none. I was thinking to be in the top four at least so I am disappointed.
"My first impressions of Lime Rock are that it's okay, especially in qualifying when the prototypes are not out there! But, when they are there too, it's really difficult. It's a short lap so they lap you very quickly and in some corners you have to be very careful and keep looking in your mirrors all the time. It's mirrors and mirrors, every lap."