ROBERT BELL JOINS RISI COMPETIZIONE FOR ROAD AMERICA Houston, TX, August 4 2008. Le Mans winners Risi Competizione welcome a new face to their team at Road America, 2007 Le Mans Series GT2 Champion, Robert Bell. The 29-year-old Briton...
ROBERT BELL JOINS RISI COMPETIZIONE FOR ROAD AMERICA
Houston, TX, August 4 2008. Le Mans winners Risi Competizione welcome a new face to their team at Road America, 2007 Le Mans Series GT2 Champion, Robert Bell.
The 29-year-old Briton will be teaming with Harrison Brix in place of Patrick Friesacher who last week suffered a testing accident in the new A1 Grand Prix car powered by Ferrari. The incident, which is under investigation by the open-wheel series, left the Austrian with a significant back injury and has put him out of action for an indeterminate amount of time.
It will be the first time at the 4.05 mile Wisconsin track for both Brix and Bell but the latter brings a great deal of Ferrari 430 experience with him which will help him settle quickly. Bell's debut in the American Le Mans Series was at Sebring in March of this year where he raced a Ferrari in the highly competitive GT2 class. His performance there, as well as his success record and results in Europe, brought him to the attention of Team Principal, Giuseppe Risi.
"I'm really pleased that Rob will be joining us for Road America," says Risi. "We hope that his busy racing schedule might allow him to return for further ALMS races but we'll have to work that out in due course. We all wish Patrick a speedy recovery and look forward to welcoming him back as soon as he feels able to return to the cockpit."
2007 GT2 Road America race winners, Jaime Melo and Mika Salo, who last weekend re-joined their endurance team mate Gimmi Bruni for the 24 Hours of Spa in Belgium and claimed a podium finish, are looking forward very much to the four-hour event.
"Thinking back to last year, it was quite difficult to race as it was raining, but actually my engineer did a very good strategy," smiles Melo. "Our car was really good, balanced and consistent so I'm very confident for Road America this year. The longer race may change our strategy, but really the only one we have now is go as fast as we can and don't collect any damage and risk ending up finishing in a bad position.
"It's quite a difficult track to set up a car for," continues the Brazilian. "It's long and you need to have a good set up for both slow and high speed corners, bumps and kerbs as well. It takes time to set up the car but we have a good base so I think that each time we go out we can just improve the car."
The track's European-style layout is popular with almost everyone in the field, and features a series of single corners without tricky or technical combinations, including the notorious "Kink", with useable curbs which can help to reduce lap time. This is the highest speed (state side) track visited by the teams and speeds of around 160mph (260kph) are reached three times a lap. The longer track will help separate the prototypes from the GT cars which engineers predict should preclude some yellows, reduce traffic and reduce the LMP's urge to attempt high risk passes.
With an expected GT2 lap time of around 2m07s, track time will be at a premium in the practice sessions leading up to the race so the team will be working hard to optimize their set up as quickly as possible. Rob Bell can't wait to get to Road America and begin the familiarization process. "I may not have been to the track before, but I'm really looking forward to the whole experience. I've raced against the team and its drivers a number of times so it will be great to join them this weekend and hopefully get some great results."