Houston, TX – After missing the previous, Canadian round of the series, Risi Competizione is looking forward to its ALMS return for the 6th round of the 2013 series.
The event: With the American Le Mans Series and the Grand-Am Rolex Series both competing at the track, there is a packed schedule for fans to enjoy but less track time for each as a result. There are 33 entries for the ALMS but car count will not play as big a role here with the longer 4.05 mile circuit. Cars will have some room to spread out and it’s wide enough to get by slower class cars.
This will be another fierce GT2 battle with the Porsches, BMWs, Vipers and Corvettes all having good top speed which is key here with the numerous fast sections. Risi is expected to have much closer top speed parity than in previous years, but staying out of trouble will be vital as there are several pro driver pairings who can win GT. The size of the circuit doesn't translate to too many laps in practice so it’s always a challenge to get the best car with the time available.
The track: Road America is a long circuit with a more traditional, European-style layout. The track is mostly smooth, with some small bumps through the centers of some of the corners; this can change depending on the severity of the previous winter. This circuit is primarily a series of single corners without tricky or technical combinations, with useable but aggressive curbs which are key in reducing lap time. This is the highest speed (States- side) track within the ALMS and speeds of 160mph (260kph) will be touched three times a lap of around 2 minutes 4 seconds.
Setup: Long straits mean relatively low downforce to maximize top speed; you don’t want to lose position on the straits. This track is typically an understeer track, especially the long ‘Carousel’ bend so springs and aero balance will be adjusted to help this. The track prefers a stiffer platform but the curbing requires a softer car so finding the optimum balance is what everyone chases.
Dampers will come into play - you need to get through the mid corner bumps without compromising the platform, and remove enough high speed damping to suit running the curbing. This track isn’t hard on brakes, but the long straits cool the front tires so you have to be careful of brake lock-ups and flat-spotting tires in the braking zones.
With the lap time being long here you don’t get many laps in a one hour practice session; you need to hone in on the setup quickly. Keeping the drivers focused on setup and not lap time will be the challenge. Our drivers never want to be second, even to their co-driver!
The race: There usually aren’t many yellows here and the track isn't hard on tires so expect some green flag pit stops to play into the outcome of this race. Not taking tires could save valuable time so strategy will be central to a good result. The Ferrari should be quick here but the competition is never higher. This will be another thriller of a GT race for the fans, and Risi hopes its bad luck is over and that a finish up front can be secured to get some momentum for the last part of the season.