Risi Competizione signs former Ferrari F1 Driver Mika Salo to drive 430GT in 2006 ALMS Series; Salo to team with Jamie Melo for the remainder of the 2006 season. Houston, Texas - Risi Competizione, competing in the ALMS series this year with the...
Risi Competizione signs former Ferrari F1 Driver Mika Salo to drive 430GT in 2006 ALMS Series; Salo to team with Jamie Melo for the remainder of the 2006 season.
Houston, Texas - Risi Competizione, competing in the ALMS series this year with the new Ferrari 430GT, announce that Mika Salo, a former Ferrari Formula 1 Driver and one of the world's top sports car drivers, has agreed to join the team. The team simultaneously announces that Jaime Melo, who set the fastest lap in the GT2 class during the 2006 running of the 12 Hours of Sebring, has committed to the team for the remainder of the 2006 season. The pairing of these two drivers will provide Risi Competizione with a duo of the world's top sports car drivers.
Team Managing Director Giuseppe Risi said that "I could not be happier. We are delighted to have Mika back with Risi Competizione and racing a Ferrari. He has started 110 Grands Prix and is widely recognized as one of the best drivers in the world. He raced the MC12 in the ALMS series last year and also a Ferrari 575GTC in the FIA series in Europe. His track effort and off-track insight into the setup of the car were invaluable. Pairing Salo with Jaime Melo in the 430GT gives us an extraordinarily potent combination of racing drivers who can, we believe, realize the full potential of this extraordinary Ferrari race car."
Mika Salo was born in Helsinki, Finland, in November, 1966. He was three times Finnish Karting Champion before moving into professional motorsports. During his Formula 1 career, which included 110 starts, he raced for the legendary names of the sport, including Lotus, Tyrell, Arrows, Sauber, Toyota, and Ferrari. At Ferrari, in 1999, he was selected to replace Michael Schumacher after Schumacher suffered a broken leg in the British Grand Prix. Salo delivered a second at Hockenheim, leading the race for most of the way, and only surrendering first place to teammate Eddie Irvine as a result of team orders. Three races later, he took to the podium again at Monza, where he scored a third place. Salo's last Formula 1 race was in 2002; since that time he has raced sports cars in Europe and the United States, in everything from an Audi R8 to a Maserati MC12. With Risi Competizione, Salo will share driving duties with Jaime Melo.
Continuing, Risi noted that "We know that Jaime Melo is one of the fastest young drivers in the GT2 class in ALMS. He proved this by his times at Sebring, and by setting the lap record for the GT2 class. He is a splendid young talent, thoroughly professional on and off the track. Melo blended instantly with our team and he delivered lap after lap at Sebring, in one of the most tightly contested races in modern history. With Mika Salo, we gain a world-class driver with experience in all forms of racing, a man with deep roots at Ferrari and a strong will to compete at the highest level. He and Salo will be a formidable pair on the track and a delight to spectators and fans off of it. In the 430GT, we have a car that realizes the full extent of these driver's talents; the fans and the television audience are going to see some wonderful racing this year.
The GT2 Class of ALMS was by far the most competitive class at Sebring, with 27 lead changes during the 12 hour race; by comparison, the LMP1, LMP2, and GT1 classes only had 3 lead changes. "No doubt about it," Team Manager David Sims said. "GT2 is where the competition is. Our competitors, Porsche and Panoz, are professional, well-prepared, and highly competitive. Everyone we race against runs an excellent program. In this class, in ALMS, all teams must work to improve performance week by week. There can be no holding back."
The combination of Mika Salo and Jaime Melo will drive their first race for Risi Competizione on Friday, 12 May, 2006, in the Houston Grand Prix, an ALMS race staged in Houston, Texas at a road course set up in that city's Reliant Park sports complex. The race will start at 8:00PM local time (CST) and end at 10:45PM; it will be televised in America on CBS Sports on Sunday, May 14th; (check national and international TV schedules for specific air times in America, Europe and on other continents.)
Risi Competizione is a Houston-based sports car racing team. Sponsors for the 2006 season include Boost/Motorola, Michelin, Lucien Piccard, Putnam Leasing and AMD.