Elkhart Lake, WI, Sunday 11th August 2013. It was a race of two halves for the Houston-based Risi Competizione team but unfortunately the No.62 Ferrari 458 Italia, which was running as high as 2nd in the first half of the race, suffered from unwarranted contact from a GT car in the second half. After a trip into the Turn 3 gravel trap one hour and 35 minutes into the race, any chance of a good result was negated and Risi was classified in 10th place at the finish.
Matteo Malucelli took the green flag at the start in wet conditions after several hours of rain prior to the race. The Italian made a storming start and rose to 3rd place by the third lap around the 4.05 mile circuit – the Ferrari running extremely well in the, by now, damp and rapidly drying conditions.
A pivotal moment in the first half of the race came when a good call for slick Michelin tires was made one lap after most of the remainder of the GT field had pitted, the additional time on track allowing it to dry out a little more. The timing also worked in strategic favor of having to make just one further pit stop before the finish.
A second pit stop was made under the second of the four caution periods and Olivier Beretta took the wheel of the red Ferrari, exiting the pits in second place after slick pit work by the crew. Unfortunately, three laps after the re-start the Ferrari was hit from behind by another GT competitor, launching Beretta into the gravel trap and sending the car tumbling down the GT order.
Beretta re-joined the race at the back of the category and brought the car home in 10th position – a poor reward for the performance shown by the team earlier, but one that the Monegasque driver was powerless to improve upon.
Team Principal Giuseppe Risi said afterwards: “We are obviously disappointed not to have been able to capitalize on our great start, but I must mention what an excellent job the team did. The pit work was fast and slick, gaining us positions, and the race strategy was on the nail. We would have been in a good position with regard to fuel economy compared to some of our rivals, if things had gone to plan, especially if the race had finished under green conditions. I also want to commend Matteo on his outstanding performance in the first half of the race – he didn’t put a foot wrong.”
The next round of the American Le Mans Series will be the Grand Prix of Baltimore, Maryland on Saturday, August 31 2013.