RISI READY TO REGAIN LOST GROUND AT LONG BEACH Houston, Tx, Thursday, April 9, 2009. The historic Long Beach street course near Los Angeles in California plays host to the third round of the 2009 American Le Mans Series, and GT2 challengers Risi...
RISI READY TO REGAIN LOST GROUND AT LONG BEACH
Houston, Tx, Thursday, April 9, 2009. The historic Long Beach street course near Los Angeles in California plays host to the third round of the 2009 American Le Mans Series, and GT2 challengers Risi Competizione will be looking to make up for the disappointment suffered at St Petersburg two weeks ago.
An uncharacteristic mechanical failure on the Ferrari F430's left front suspension meant that Jaime Melo and Pierre Kaffer were unable to capitalize on their pole position and, moreover, unable to add to the points gained from winning the season-opening race at Sebring.
However, Risi Competizione's philosophy is always to look forward and not back, and it is with renewed enthusiasm and determination that the team, this weekend supported by long-time partner, Ferrari of Beverly Hills, heads to the picture postcard setting of sun, sea and palms in Long Beach.
Often compared to the Formula One Grand Prix in Monaco, the 1.968 mile, 11-turn temporary street circuit is as challenging as any other, but Risi knows what it takes to succeed here. A win and a podium in 2007 was a great introduction to Long Beach, and it is those results that Melo and Kaffer will be looking to replicate. With only one hour and 40 minutes of practice before qualifying, and only 100 minutes of racing on Saturday, April 18, track time is very limited so knowledge and confidence is key.
Jaime Melo, who will be qualifying for the first time here, says: "Long Beach is a little bit different from St Petersburg, but both tracks are bumpy so the most important thing is to have a good car over the bumps. Our car is really good between the walls and we have a good base set up so we just have to work on improving what we had last year.
"Like at St Pete there may not be many yellows, but we have to be prepared for pit stops at any time. I'm not worried about this because our Risi guys are very quick and slick on these; we cannot lose any time in the pits like we did last year [when a starter motor issue delayed the #62 car]. We will need to push from the first to the last minute as Porsche will be strong again, but I think we will be really competitive."
Pierre Kaffer will be making his Long Beach debut but, as he likes street courses so much, he can't wait to get there: "I really think we could have won the St Pete race as we had the pace over a stint and, of course, the #87 car had problems. I always believe that things happen for a reason and although I don't know what caused our suspension problems, I'm absolutely sure it won't happen again.
"I will be downloading a lap of Long Beach on the internet so will be concentrating on that now. It's quite difficult to have such a short time in the car before the race so you have to concentrate very hard, but I love street tracks so I'm really looking forward to it."