Track time at Long Beach is always at a premium and this year is no exception. A two-hour session, which started at 7:30 am this morning, was interrupted three times by red flags but held in bright, sunny conditions.
At the checker, the Risi Competizione Ferrari 458 Italia was third in the super-competitive GT class, with Long Beach debutant Matteo Malucelli having quickly got to grips with the track.
It was difficult to put full throttle this morning because it’s slippery and there are a lot of bumps; you must be confident with the car otherwise it’s difficult to go flat out. If you make a mistake and crash the car that’s not a good way to start the weekend!”
Malucelli is benefitting from the experience of two-time Long Beach winner Olivier Beretta who said after practice: “Everything went really smooth and we had no problems at all on the car.
We didn’t touch anything and the bodywork still has four wheels beneath it which is a good thing here! I think Rick and all the guys have done a very good job and the car feels great.
We didn’t touch a lot in terms of set up, but just drove and stayed out of trouble. Now we have to talk together to sort out what we will do in qualifying… it will be a close race like always but the car should be fast.”
Risi Competizione’s former crew chief and current drive train specialist, Richard Taylor, has been coming to Long Beach on and off for 37 years. In fact, he was here for the very first Formula One event on the streets, the 1976 United States Grand Prix West.
The laconic Briton was working for Walter Wolf Racing with Belgian driver Jacky Ickx who unfortunately failed to qualify for the race.
While the cars are on track Richard can be found with the ‘lollipop’ in hand, stopping the car in the pits.