RISI SETS THE PACE AT LIME ROCK PARK Risi Competizione's Jaime Melo put on a dominant display of driving at Lime Rock Park this afternoon, taking his Ferrari F430GT to GT pole position with an average lap speed of over 100 mph. His fastest lap...
RISI SETS THE PACE AT LIME ROCK PARK
Risi Competizione's Jaime Melo put on a dominant display of driving at Lime Rock Park this afternoon, taking his Ferrari F430GT to GT pole position with an average lap speed of over 100 mph. His fastest lap of 54.665 seconds on the 1.51 mile Connecticut track gives him his third pole of the season and 15th career ALMS pole. By starting from the front of the GT class at this small and twisty track, it affords Melo and his team mate, Pierre Kaffer, a great chance for their first ALMS victory since winning the season's opener at Sebring in March.
Melo, fresh from his second consecutive 24 Hours of Le Mans GT2 win, was instantly on form in the 20-minute session. In common with the whole GT field, the #62 Ferrari was out on track as soon as the green flag dropped due to approaching heavy skies and the threat of thunderstorms. It took Melo just four laps to set provisional pole and he then pitted mid way through the session to preserve his Michelin tires. He remained in the car as the team's greatest rivals, and current GT2 championship leaders, Flying Lizard Motorsports, were still out of track and it wasn't long before he saw his quickest time beaten by the #45 by just one tenth of a second.
With six minutes of the session remaining, Jaime Melo brought down the visor on his helmet and left the pits again to respond to the challenge thrown down by the Flying Lizard Porsche of Pat Long. And respond he did, instantly firing off a lap of 54.665 seconds to claim pole.
"My first run was really good and I thought that was a great time, so I pitted and was waiting to see what the #45 Porsche could do," said a delighted Melo afterwards. "They are really strong but, when we saw their lap time, my engineer Rick Mayer said "can you try one more time?" and I thought okay, I felt I had something more I could find. It was a good qualifying and we're really happy with the car, not just for qualifying but for the race as well."
Since their return from France a month ago, the Houston-based Risi Competizione team has been busy bringing up to 2009 specification the 'new' chassis it will be using from this weekend through to the end of the series. The Ferrari F430 GT now being campaigned is the #61 Sebring/#83 Le Mans car as the team's previous #62 Ferrari, chassis 2606, has been honourably "retired". With four consecutive endurance victories under its belt [Le Mans 2008 and 2009, Petit Le Mans 2008 and Sebring 2009], it more than deserves the accolades given to it by Risi's most successful current driver, Jaime Melo.
"It was the best I have ever driven; I think it will be remembered as one of the most successful Ferraris ever." The Italian-domiciled Brazilian goes on to say, "There is not much difference in this car and [the one we used for] Le Mans. It may be a little stiffer than the old one, but we can't feel it when driving."
The American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn., is scheduled for 2:05 pm EDT on Saturday, July 18. The race will air live on SPEED and can be followed on American Le Mans Radio presented by Porsche and Live Timing & Scoring on www.americanlemans.com.