Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
Risi Aiming To Continue Mosport Momentum To Mid Ohio
Following a strong second place in the GT class at the last round of the American Le Mans Series in Mosport, Canada, the Ferrari 458 Italia of Risi Competizione now heads for the scenic Mid Ohio Sports Car Course at Lexington, some 60 miles north of Columbus, Ohio. Round five of the 2011 ALMS - the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge – takes place on Saturday, August 6.
It’s not really difficult to set the car up here...
Once again sharing the classic road course with the IndyCar Series, which encourages even higher crowd figures for the weekend, the 33-strong sports car field from the ALMS includes its most competitive and numerous category – the production-led GT class. Representing some of the world’s most prestigious and well-known makes such as Ferrari, BMW, Corvette and Porsche, there are 15 entries in GT with many top class driver line-ups amongst them. The battles for success are hard-fought and often too close to predict until the final minutes of the race, and provide some thrilling races for audiences at home and online.
The 2.25 mile/13-turn Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course has been the venue for countless classic sports car races in the past and is a favorite with both Risi Competizione’s drivers. The layout is technical with a mixture of medium and low speed corners; the surface is smooth, with big, flat curbs which give a gain if they can be used – although overtaking opportunities are limited.
Jaime Melo took the Houston-based team’s first win at Mid Ohio in 2010: “I think Mid Ohio is one of the tracks where the new Ferrari will be really competitive so hopefully we can put everything together with strategy, tires, consumption and handling of the car, for both of us, and see what we can get from that race.
“The F430 was really good at Mid Ohio, especially in the corners, and this track is mostly slow and mid speed corners. I expect the new model will be as competitive as the 430 but the main key is to finish the race. We have a lot of potential and speed, but need to just try and avoid trouble on the track and keep working on reliability.
“It’s not really difficult to set the car up here but you have to be aware of the traffic all the time. There are some up and down areas where you have to make sure the damper settings are right for that part of the track, but it’s not a very long track. There’s one long straight coming down after Turn 2 so you need to find compromise between downforce and mechanical grip. I think the F458 is pretty good in the corners so even with low downforce we can find some grip.
“Last year was our first win there so I’ve got good memories, and in 08/09 we were also pretty competitive there. The atmosphere is good and lot of people come to watch the race so hopefully it’ll be a good weekend.”
Toni Vilander claimed GT pole position on his debut at Mid Ohio last year: “I like the track. I arrived there last year without knowing the place and found good confidence. It’s a typical American road course with different types of corners compared to the European race tracks. Somehow it suits my driving style. There was no miracle and nothing strange done last year but the lap times were there and we were one-two after an hour which was quite impressive. We ended up in some trouble but hopefully with the 458 we can keep the same performance. Having done Mosport we hope to improve again.
“Traffic is an issue in ALMS all the time because there are two categories in which there are slower and less predictable drivers so you need to be really careful. Compared to last year sometimes it feels like the cars have slowed down – few situations where you almost have to stop the car completely during the race. Traffic will be an issue but not more than any other race – you just need to be patient. My new word for the season!”