RISI COMPETIZIONE CONFIRMS PIERRE KAFFER FOR 2009 AND RENEWED LINKS WITH KROHN RACING
Houston, TX -- March 5, 2009. In its bid to challenge for American Le Mans Series (ALMS) GT2 Championship honors and retention of its class-winning 24 Hours of Le Mans title, Risi Competizione present for 2009 a mixture of much that is familiar, with some that is new.
It is today announced that experienced German sportscar driver, Pierre Kaffer, will be joining Risi regular Jaime Melo in the #62 Ferrari F430GT for the 2009 season, beginning with the 57th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida on Saturday, March 21. They will be joined at Sebring by Mika Salo, the ever-popular Finn returning to the team for the 2009 endurance events as his schedule allows; the trio will present a formidable line up in what is likely to be intense competition in the GT2 class.
The Houston-based team, one of the most faithful stalwarts to the ALMS, begins the season by fielding two Ferrari 430 GTs in what promises to be the most competitive, popular and challenging GT2 class ever. For the third year running, Risi Competizione will be partnering with Krohn Racing, whose eponymous owner is also headquartered in Houston, Texas, for endurance events including the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June. Tracy Krohn, Nic Jonsson and Eric van de Poele will, as in 2008, be campaigning their distinctive green and blue liveried #61 car.
"We believe in continuity" said Team Principal Giuseppe Risi. "But we also believe in change. Jaime Melo has been with us since we started racing the 430GT--as has Mika Salo. Jaime will be with us at every race and Mika will make his considerable talents known as his schedule allows.
"Change this year comes in the form of Pierre Kaffer, a very dynamic young driver, who shares driving responsibilities with Jaime for the ALMS Season. This is a very talented driving line-up and we like the mix of continuity and change.
"I'm delighted that Tracy is back with us once more," continued Risi. "He has enjoyed some of his best results in sportscar racing with us -- a second place at Le Mans and a podium finish last year at Sebring -- and each time he drives the Ferrari 430 he becomes more comfortable and confident. I look forward to having he, Nic and Eric together again as I think it's a great driving combination, and their faith in Risi Competizione means a great deal to all of us."
As stated, at the heart of the team is Jaime Melo who remains loyal for a fourth consecutive season. The 28-year-old Brazilian has won 12 times in his relatively short American Le Mans Series' career -- all with Risi Competizione -- and has taken 12 pole positions, broken numerous track records and set fastest laps at tracks which were, at the time, all new to him.
While the 2008 ALMS season didn't offer the breadth of victories he and the team had enjoyed 12 months earlier, Melo nevertheless won the highly prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 1,000 Mile Petit Le Mans classic as well as the Grand Prix of Mosport. For 2009, he gains a new team mate -- 32-year-old Swiss resident, Pierre Kaffer.
The German national, who has two overall ALMS race wins to his name, has accumulated an important and useful bank of Ferrari F430 knowledge over the last two years, most recently as a regular entrant in the European-based Le Mans Series. The new Risi team mates have recently been together in Italy at Ferrari's Fiorano base to shake down their 2009 car, and are very much looking forward to a great season together.
Tracy Krohn, Nic Jonsson and Eric van de Poele, all full-season drivers in the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, will be looking to improve upon their third place finish in the 12-hour season-opener a year ago. Swedish-born and Buford, Georgia-based Jonsson has been Krohn's team mate since he started racing six years ago and both he and the highly experienced van de Poele, have a wealth of experience from which Krohn can draw upon. The Belgian is a two-times winner at the 12 Hours of Sebring, an LMP1 24 Hours of Le Mans winner with a Doyle-Risi Ferrari 333SP in 1998 and an overall winner of Petit Le Mans that same year.
In 2009 the goals will be very challenging: a championship ALMS season and a repeat victory at Le Mans. "Every year, the competition in GT2 improves." Giuseppe Risi states. "This year, we are facing a renewed effort on the part of the Porsche teams, a renaissance at Panoz, the new BMW team fielded by Rahal/Letterman, and, later in the season, the arrival of the GT2 Corvette factory team.
"GT2 racing is where the serious competition meets in ALMS," he continues. "But we are a serious team and no one in racing is more committed to excellence than Ferrari."
The American Le Mans Series will open its 11th season with the 57th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida on Saturday, March 21. SPEED will televise the race live from 10 a.m. to noon and 2-11 p.m. ET. American Le Mans Radio and Live Timing & Scoring will be available at americanlemans.com.