Risi Competizione today experienced the true roller-coaster of emotions that motor sport so often brings to its participants around the globe.
A GT2 race victory at the ALMS season finale, the 1000 Mile Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, and a chance to clinch the ALMS Manufacturers' title for Ferrari, were looking assured for the Houston-based team whose two cars had both been in contention at differing stages throughout the hard-fought 9 hour 10 minute race.
Both the win and the title were, however, cruelly snatched away when Toni Vilander's No. 62 F430 GTC spluttered to a halt out of fuel just half a lap away from the checkered flag. The class win was taken by the No. 4 Corvette C6.R of Gavin-Magnussen-Collard, with Vilander and his team mate, Gianmaria Bruni, ultimately classified third behind the Extreme Speed Ferrari of Sharp-van Overbeek-Farnbacher. The Manufacturers' title went to BMW, with BMW Rahal Letterman also claiming the Teams' Championship.
The No. 61 Ferrari of Jaime Melo, Mika Salo and Giancarlo Fisichella had its own highs and lows in this dramatic, caution-filled race. Delays in the pits unfortunately put paid to any chance of victory, despite stellar stints at the head of the GT2 class by all three drivers. They finished in 7th place.
Risi Competizione's Team Principal, Giuseppe Risi, was fulsome in his praise for all five drivers, despite the crushing disappointment of the final outcome: "I'm a bit lost for words at the moment, to be honest. It's desperately disappointing on so many levels, and this is going to hurt for some time to come.
"We had the two fastest GT cars out there today, and all the drivers overcame everything thrown at them to keep us in contention from start to finish. Giancarlo drove superbly each time he was in the car, and for Gimmi and Toni do the entire race on their own just shows the extremely high level of fitness they have.
"We had some bad luck, made some errors of our own, but bounced back each time. We couldn't have been closer to the win than we were, and to have lost it by what amounts to just a few litres of fuel is a hard pill to swallow. However, many congratulations to Corvette who pushed and challenged us right to the very end, and to BMW for winning the championships."
Today's results mean that Risi Competizione take third place in the Teams' and Manufacturers' Championships while Gianmaria Bruni secures second in the Drivers' title chase behind winners Patrick Long and Jorg Bergmeister.
The prestigious Petit Le Mans event, which was also the second round of the ACO's new Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, was chalked up to be the swansong for the highly successful Ferrari F430 GTC. The Italian marque's new GT challenger, the Ferrari 458 is currently being developed and is expected to be launched over the coming months. Today's results mean that Ferrari retains its lead in the LM GT2 Constructors classification, while Risi Ferrari now leads the GT2 Teams points table.
Although yesterday's magnificent Ferrari 1-2-3-4 in GT qualifying , led by the two Rosso Red Risi Competizione cars, was not to be repeated today, the sight and sound of the Ferrari 430 -- together with its many, many successes in North America since its debut in March 2006 -- will be remembered fondly for years to come.