RISI LOOKING FOR LE MANS REPEAT, PIECE OF HISTORY The key to endurance racing is, well...endurance. And no GT2 team in the world has been better at that in the past year than Risi Competizione. The red Risi Ferrari F430 GT currently holds the...
RISI LOOKING FOR LE MANS REPEAT, PIECE OF HISTORY
The key to endurance racing is, well...endurance. And no GT2 team in the world has been better at that in the past year than Risi Competizione. The red Risi Ferrari F430 GT currently holds the GT2 Triple Crown of sports car racing and will try to become the first team to repeat in class at Le Mans since the Automobile Club de l'Ouest reorganized the classes more than a decade ago.
Brazilian Jaime Melo and Finn Mika Salo have been constants in Risi's victories over the last year, and Pierre Kaffer (Melo's full-season teammate in the American Le Mans Series this year) has fit in magnificently through the first four rounds of the season. The trio and the Risi crew were nearly flawless in their victory three months ago at the 57th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida.
"It was a combination of everything - the best team, best teammates and great strategy," said the German Kaffer, who finished third last year behind the winning Risi entry (Melo, Salo and Gianmaria Bruni). "Everyone works together very well and every single part of the team helped toward the big result. To get everyone to that stage is - especially at the first race of the year - is in my experience unusual and that's what the team excels at. It has an all-round good package.
"The Risi Ferrari was really strong, but helped by the misfortune of some of our competitors," he said. "This year will be tougher because Porsche has developed its car a lot over the winter so we have to push hard. From what I saw in the Daytona and Nurburgring 24-hour races this year, these events are not long-distance races any more but like sprint races. You have to push for the whole 24 hours. We know our Ferrari is very reliable and will last for this length of time and maybe we can pressure the Porsches so much they will get into trouble."
That's what helped Melo go from near the rear of the GT2 field at the start of last year's race to the class lead before the two-hour mark. Risi went on to win by eight laps as Ferrari swept the podium. The team was the first at since Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing to take two straight GT2 Le Mans podium finishes; in 2007 Tracy Krohn, Nic Jonsson and Colin Braun were GT2 runners-up in a Risi Ferrari.
"We have had great reliability and strategy and, of course, the whole team has performed well," Melo said. "Every single pit stop went without problems, and every single part of the car was really well prepared. The team has done a great job, and the drivers were consistent and made no mistakes. That's the secret.
"I think the approach to this year's race is going to be same as last year," he added. "It doesn't matter what last year's result was. This is a new race. There is perhaps a bit more pressure this year because Porsche is stronger than last year - we don't know what the real gap between us will be because last year they had problems. Mika and Pierre both have good experience at Le Mans and know what to do so our approach will be the same: keep the car on the track. We know we have a consistent car and can give our competitors a hard time - hopefully we will have a race without any problems."