MELO MATTERS... Jaime Melo will arrive at Sebring tomorrow (Friday) having been absent in the build up to this weekend's opening race of the season, frustratingly held up in Italy with visa problems. Spending days at the US Embassy in Rome...
Jaime Melo will arrive at Sebring tomorrow (Friday) having been absent in the build up to this weekend's opening race of the season, frustratingly held up in Italy with visa problems. Spending days at the US Embassy in Rome -- where the Brazilian is now living -- instead of practicing here in Sebring was a less than ideal start to the season for the driver.
His presence for the race will be a boost to the entire team who this year are facing ever-stiffer opposition from strong, factory-supported competitors in the buoyant GT2 class. The Risi Competizione Ferrari is the only F430 registered for the whole ALMS season, and expectations are grounded and realistic rather than raised.
The past three days of practice sessions have run smoothly for Krohn Racing team mates, Tracy Krohn, Nic Jonsson and Eric van de Poele. The trio have all re-acquainted themselves with the notoriously bumpy Sebring track and the Ferrari F430 and are working towards a repeat of their podium finish twelve months ago. Lap times have steadily improved as the week has progressed and it is Tracy Krohn who will qualify the #61 car this afternoon.
Krohn Racing and Risi Competizione, both of Houston, Texas, have paired for the third season in a row to field a Ferrari 430 GT in the GT2 class for Sebring and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Last year the Risi-Krohn Ferrari team participated in three of the ALMS races, collecting a third place finish at Sebring, fourth at Petit Le Mans and 11th at the Laguna Seca finale.
"I think we've made a lot of progress this week," said Nic Jonsson, driver of No. 61 Risi-Krohn Ferrari 430 GT. "This is obviously a brand new car that was just delivered here in the last week. The first half of day one was more of a shake down to make sure everything worked properly. As always, the Risi-Krohn team prepped the car well and we had no issues at all. After the first session we started to work on set-up. I thought we have been very competitive. Considering we only drive this car about three times a year and the last time Tracy and I drove it was last October at Laguna Seca, we've done a top five almost every session that we were trying to put a time down. So, I'm very pleased. We've done some driver change practice which was very smooth. I'm looking forward to this race this weekend. I think if we can stay out of trouble and do what we always do, which is basically set our own pace and not worry about what everyone else does, hopefully the race attrition will come our way and we'll have a good result."
"Up until now, everything looks perfect. I think we are in better shape than last year, added Eric van de Poele, driver of No. 61 Risi-Krohn Ferrari 430 GT. "We found a very, very good set-up for the car for the race. I think we are also ready for driver changes as well because we just finished practicing that. We could have a good qualifying because we have prepared a good strategy. I'm really looking forward to the race because I think we are much better prepared than last year. I'm quite confident."
Pierre Kaffer and Mika Salo have both shared plenty of seat time in the #62 Ferrari since practice sessions began on Monday, with the highly experienced Finn passing on the benefit of his Risi knowledge to the newcomer. Kaffer, however, has impressed his engineers with his technical feedback which no doubt is aided by his mechanical training as well as his racing experience.