Sebring: Risi Competizione preview

RISI COMPETIZIONE AIMING TO CONTINUE ENDURANCE SUCCESS RUN Houston, TX -- March 12, 2010. Endurance racing specialists Risi Competizione head to Florida next week for the 58th running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring with little to...

RISI COMPETIZIONE AIMING TO CONTINUE ENDURANCE SUCCESS RUN

Houston, TX -- March 12, 2010. Endurance racing specialists Risi Competizione head to Florida next week for the 58th running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring with little to prove and all to play for.

The Houston-based Ferrari GT2 team has, over the last two years, enjoyed a phenomenal run of five consecutive successes in international sports car racing's major classics. It has taken victory laurels at the 2008 24 Hours of Le Mans and Petit Le Mans, and the 2009 12 Hours of Sebring, 24 Hours of Le Mans and Petit Le Mans.

2010, however, could offer the toughest challenge yet for Risi and its endurance racing partner, Krohn Racing, thanks to the increased level of competition in the GT class.

Team Principal, Giuseppe Risi, highlights the challenges ahead. "BMW, Corvette, Ford, Jaguar and Porsche are all joining Ferrari in making the production-based category a real jewel in the ALMS crown in terms of excitement, noise and great on-track battles for the fans and TV audiences. That number of manufacturers, represented by some of the best teams in racing today, and with some truly excellent driver line ups, also means that the contest for top honors -- always close in 2009 --will be yet more intense throughout the year.

"We are prepared, as always, for the challenges ahead," continued Risi, "but certainly don't underestimate the task ahead. We are confident we've got all the elements in place for success, but you always need that little bit of luck on your side too. Having our friends from Krohn Racing back with us is part of having those elements in place -- we've always done well with them and with them alongside us, and I'm delighted that Tracy, Nic and Eric will once again be part of our team at Sebring and beyond."

Risi regular, Jaime Melo, and his season-long partner, Gianmaria Bruni, will be benefitting from the experience, skill and consistency of Pierre Kaffer in the #62 'Rosso Red' Ferrari 430, while Tracy Krohn, Nic Jonsson and Eric van de Poele, piloting the #61 'Krohn Green' Ferrari, will once again we warmly welcomed back into the Risi fold with the sole aim of adding to their great tally of endurance successes of recent years.

Tracy Krohn, who, with his team mates, has taken the Ferrari to two podiums finishes at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and a third place at Sebring in 2008, is very much looking forward to getting back into the F430. "The car is very predictable, and very well sorted. Risi has had great success with this car and is a very well run organization that has the results to back it up. They work hard at improving on success.

"We have very experienced drivers overall, but also with this particular car [#61]. Nic Jonsson and Eric van de Poele are easy to work with and we all feel the car pretty much the same which means driver styles are fairly similar. As for getting back in the car, I know that it will be better than it was before and that gives any driver more confidence."

2010 is the super-successful F430's last full year of international competition at this level, but Ferrari and Michelotto have not been idle over the winter months. There are three important changes to the specification of the car for this season and they are:

1) The car will run 100 kg heavier, now 1245kg;

2) It carries wider rear wheels and bigger tires front and rear;

3) It will be fitted with bigger air intake restrictors, permitted due to the increased weight and wider wheel, thus offering 9% more flow area and an increase in horsepower which should offer more straight line speed equalization for the Ferrari with its competitors compared to 2009. Horsepower figures are not available.

Visually the F430 remains outwardly very similar to the 2009 version although the car will feature more flared wheel arches and quarter panels to accommodate the bigger wheels and a different front splitter.

RISI COMPETIZIONE DRIVER QUOTES AND DETAILS:

Gianmaria Bruni, Risi Competizione Ferrari No. 62
Nationality: Italian

Notes: An open-wheel champion in Europe from the get-go, got to the top with Minardi in 2004 F1 World Championship. After two further seasons in GP2, switched allegiance to sportscars in 2007, runner up in FIA GT Championship. Winner of 24 Hrs Le Mans in 08 with Risi, and FIA GT(2) Champion with AF Corse. Beaten to 09 Le Mans Series title one point and runner up in FIA GT Championship. 6 ALMS career starts, 3 top three finishes.

Gianmaria Bruni (On the Sebring track): "To get a quick lap time at Sebring it's important to be very quick on the last corner, Turn 17, which is also the most challenging. You have to brake late, and it's difficult to catch the rear braking point because it's so bumpy. You always brake late, and always think you could brake later! That corner is the key to the Sebring circuit. I like it a lot as it's really challenging and there's always a great atmosphere."

(On the competition and the race ahead): "I think it will be very close between the BMWs, the Corvettes, the Porsches and us. I haven't seen the GT2 Corvette at all yet, but I hear it's good. Porsche has done lots of work since last year, and I'm sure the Flying Lizard Porsche will be one of the toughest. For us, we have to do our race and we will be up there."

Nic Jonsson, Risi Competizione and Krohn Racing Ferrari No. 61
Nationality: Swedish

Notes: Former formula, touring car, IRL and Indy Lights driver. 38 career starts in ALMS, 6 podiums, 3 of which have been with Risi.

Nic Jonsson (On the Sebring track): "The toughest part is that obviously there are 17 corners at the Sebring track. It is one of the longest racetracks we go to with all the different elements that a good race track can ask for. It has long, long straightaways with very hard braking zones and not so hard braking zones like a 180 degree braking corner. There are fast sweepers. It has everything really except elevation changes. If they don't have that, they have a lot of elevation changes with the bumps in the corners! It is very, very bumpy. That's one of the bigger challenges, to get that car to handle the bumps and not to be too harsh with the brakes on the car and, at the same time, be able to get the mechanical grip to go pretty quick around there. I think that's the toughest part.

"The most satisfying part is when you get a car that is very comfortable to drive and running a fast race pace and, if you have the fortune as we have had in the last few years, to also end up on the podium, taking the checkered flag in the dark with the fireworks shooting off. It's a fantastic feeling to know that you've been doing a 12-hour race with your two buddies in the car and you have achieved such a good result. That is the most satisfying part of it!"

Pierre Kaffer, Risi Competizione Ferrari No. 62
Nationality: German

Notes: Two times overall winner in ALMS with Audi R8, including 12 Hours of Sebring. Former Audi factory driver, drove in DTM for two years before returning to sportscars. Now seasoned Ferrari GT driver with 16 ALMS career starts, 4 wins and 10 top three finishes.

Pierre Kaffer (On the 'evolution' version of the F430): "I have driven the new evolution version of the F430 at the Paul Ricard HTTT track in France and it's definitely better. It was easy to adapt quickly to it and a logical set up is needed. I think it will be a strong car for all the long distance races, and I think we have the strongest combination of drivers together."

(On the Sebring race ahead): "The Ferrari 430 has a great history, we know it's reliable, and now we have our big chance to make the magic happen again, with a bit of luck, in Sebring. Of course in the end you need this little bit of luck as everyone else is strong but, in 12 hours, so many things can happen. You have to be very aware of strategy, stay out of trouble in the race and look behind you as well as in front of you at the prototypes."

Tracy Krohn, Risi Competizione and Krohn Racing Ferrari No. 61
Nationality: American

Notes: Been competing in Grand-Am Series since 2004, climbing from Grand-Am Cup to Prototype, first overall victory being at 2005 Six Hours of the Glen. Won "Jim Trueman Award" for Sportsman drivers in 2007 and again at Daytona 2010. Finished second in GT2 class at 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2007 with Jonsson and Colin Braun, third in 2008 12 Hours of Sebring and 2009 24 Hours Le Mans. 13 ALMS career starts, 2 top 3 finishes and 7 top 5 finishes.

Tracy Krohn (On the Sebring track): "I do like this track, but not for what would be obvious reasons so much as personal challenges. The track is very bumpy and thus it just relentlessly beats the crap out of a driver, especially in the GT class. The result is that a 12 hour race feels like a 36 hour race when it is over.

"Sebring is also a very technical track and slight changes can make big gains or losses with regard to line. There are about 1400 different lines through Turn 17, so a lot of time is lost or gained in just that one turn. Maximizing the speed off the corners at 17 and Turn 1 always are determining factors in lap time for me at this track."

(On the competition): "The GT class is always competitive and challenging, but GT cars are not for GT drivers in the ALMS. The closing velocity between the GT cars and the prototypes can be huge so that is where the art is in this series for GT drivers, in that we must be constantly looking out the front of the car and checking mirrors to make sure of where the prototypes are. The GT competition should be phenomenal this year with all the new entries and I am really looking forward to getting back on this track and with this team to see how we stack up with the rest of the GT field."

Jaime Melo, Risi Competizione Ferrari No. 62
Nationality: Brazilian

Notes: An open-wheel champion in F3000; switched to sportscars in 2004 and has not stopped winning since. Official Ferrari GT development driver, together with Bruni. 2006 FIA GT Champion with AF Corse. 36 ALMS starts, 14 wins, 15 pole positions; 2007 ALMS GT2 Driver Champion and winner of 12 Hours Sebring with closest winning margin in race's history, 2008 24 Hours Le Mans and Petit Le Mans GT2 winner, 2nd 2009 ALMS Drivers Championship, 2009 Sebring 112 Hrs, 24 Hours Le Mans and Petit Le Mans GT2 winner.

Jaime Melo (on the 'Challenge' classes): "This year we will have LMP Challenge cars as well as GT Challenge. Some are fast, just a bit faster than us on the straights, but others are slower in the corners. It's one more thing to look at and maybe it will be worse or maybe better? It will for sure make it more fun!"

(On the competition): "Right now I think it's difficult to say who will be the strongest in the GT class because no one has shown their hand yet, and probably won't until race weekend, but for sure there's a minimum of six cars which could win. The Flying Lizard Porsche is for sure very strong, but we've got a very good line up with Gimmi, me and Pierre. Now we need to show what we can do."

(On the new 'evolution' 430): "The car is pretty much the same as in 2009 with just more power and overall grip, which comes from the wider tires. It's a car we know so well so but we are finding ways to improve all the time. We have better balance now, using last year's aerodynamic package, and maybe consistency of the tires, so there's a bit more range to work with. Now we just need to enjoy the last year of the F430."

Eric van de Poele, Competizione and Krohn Racing Ferrari No. 61
Nationality: Belgian

Notes: Driven more than 75 different racing cars on over 100 race tracks worldwide. Five-time winner of 24 Hours of Spa, three-time class winner of 24 Hours of Le Mans, two-time winner of 12 Hours of Sebring (1995/6), winner of Petit Le Mans (1998 in a Doyle-Risi Racing Ferrari 333SP), former Formula One driver with 29 starts, DTM Champion. 13 career ALMS starts, 1 win, 3 top three finishes.

Eric van de Poele (On being back with Tracy and Nic as co-drivers and with Risi): "This is again a fantastic privilege to join this race with such a great team. I'm looking forward to be back in the car with my usual "green" teammates and I cannot wait to be back with Risi Competizione! I grabbed so many successes with Giuseppe's team in the past, it is definitely synonymous with podiums for me."

(On the Ferrari F430 and Sebring): "I had the chance to win overall with a Ferrari in 1995, and of course I will never forget that. So, to be back again at Sebring with Ferrari is already special. It is the last year of the Ferrari 430. It means that this car has been developed during many years and is nearly perfect. Last year already, this car was very nice to drive and competitive. I expect even more fun and efficiency this year."

-source: risi

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About this article
Series ALMS
Teams AF Corse , Krohn Racing , Risi Competizione