To the massive disappointment of everyone involved -- including the many thousands of fans who were anticipating another wheel-to-wheel track battle with the Flying Lizard Porsches -- the Risi Competizione no. 62 Ferrari 430 GT was retired at just...
To the massive disappointment of everyone involved -- including the many thousands of fans who were anticipating another wheel-to-wheel track battle with the Flying Lizard Porsches -- the Risi Competizione no. 62 Ferrari 430 GT was retired at just under the six hour mark due to accident damage.
Jaime Melo was behind the wheel of the Ferrari when he made contact with the no. 87 Farnbacher Loles Porsche and the resulting mechanical damage meant that the car was able to take no further part in the race.
A distraught Melo said afterwards, "I went into the hairpin and it was a big mess, with lots of cars. To avoid it I went on the inside line and could not stop because I was on the grass and I hit the Porsche. I should say it's my fault and I am very, very sorry."
Until that point, the driving crew of the Rosso red Ferrari had given a first-class display of GT driving and had the lead of the GT2 class completely under control. They headed the field from the start, apart from just a handful of laps as the pit stops played out up and down the pitlane, and were holding a lap in hand over their nearest rivals, the no. 45 Flying Lizard Porsche of Bergmeister, Henzler and Lieb.
The canny strategy of no.62's race engineer, Rick Mayer, together with a turn of pace on the track which was superior to all its competitors had allowed the team to profit from the four Full Course Yellow periods in the opening half of the race. Within these yellow flag periods, the crew of the 62 car had taken the opportunity to change front brake pads and callipers and still get back to green flag racing with a substantial class lead.
Mika Salo spoke on behalf of himself and Gianmaria Bruni, Melo's two co-drivers: "It's a shame to lose such a big lead like this. The car was so well prepared this week, the best it's ever been, and we were fast all the time -- quicker than anyone else. We'll come back next time."
The fortunes of the second Risi Competizione entry, the Risi-Krohn no. 61 Ferrari 430 of Nic Jonsson, Tracy Krohn and Eric van de Poele, have improved as the race has run. After starting 11th in class, the car was holding third place in class at the six hour mark.
Despite not being as fortunate as others under the caution periods, the car has made a steady climb through the field and remained out of trouble.
Nic Jonsson, who has now completed three stints behind the wheel, said: "I was very pleased with this last stint but unfortunately we were about 10-12 laps under yellow. Then they put the lights out on the pace car at the wrong position on the race track and we missed out on a pit stop opportunity there. But otherwise, I was very pleased. I was able to run leader pace this last stint, 2:05's, so that's very good. We just have to keep digging here and stay out of trouble; there's a lot of people making mistakes out there. We will see if we can avoid mistakes and I think then we'll have a very good chance to compete for the podium. Tracy's out there and doing a good job so he should continue on what he's doing. Eric will then get in and we'll see where we are at that point. Everything is good!"