Risi face a Long Beach challenge after qualifying incident
Following a very productive and positive two-hour practice session earlier in the day, Risi Competizione this afternoon experienced the frustration and disappointment that motorsport can sometimes bring. A qualifying incident early in the session put the Ferrari 458 Italia GT out of contention for a competitive grid place.
Jaime Melo, a former GT2 class winner at Long Beach, was just beginning his first flying lap of the session and explained what happened: "I was just starting on a quick lap, changed through the gears and lost the rear of the car at Turn 2. I slightly touched the tire wall and it knocked the rear wing off the car; we didn't have enough time to repair it [the wing and supports] in the pits during qualifying. It's a big disappointment for me and the team."
Melo drove back to the pits but the Houston-based team was forced to sit out the remainder of the 15-minute session. The Brazilian and his Finnish team mate, Toni Vilander, will be able to take the start of the two-hour race tomorrow, but from the back of the grid, making the challenge of overtaking on this tight street course even greater.
At 7:15 am this morning, as the 31-car field of ALMS cars took to the track, cold and slippery track conditions greeted them -- quite different to the hot (86oF) and sunny conditions of this afternoon. The drivers, together with their engineer Mark Schomann, worked diligently through a set up and evaluation program and learnt a great deal about optimizing the performance of Ferrari's latest GT challenger.
With a large number of Ferrari VIP guests due to attend tomorrow's Tequila Patron American Le Mans Series at Long Beach race, one thing is certain. The Risi Competizione team is never better than when challenged, and an exciting fight back through the field by the Red Ferrari is guaranteed.