St. Pete: Risi Competizione qualifying report

Street Smart Melo Takes GT Pole at St Pete Risi Competizione's Jaime Melo showed that he and the team have lost nothing of their Sebring speed and form by taking a convincing GT class pole position today at St Petersburg (FL). It is the first...

Street Smart Melo Takes GT Pole at St Pete

Risi Competizione's Jaime Melo showed that he and the team have lost nothing of their Sebring speed and form by taking a convincing GT class pole position today at St Petersburg (FL). It is the first time that Risi Competizione has secured pole position at the 1.8 mile temporary street course, and it marks the 13th of his ALMS career.

The Brazilian's Ferrari F430GT recorded a fastest time of 1:12.892 on his fifth fastest lap, and was almost three tenths of a second ahead of his nearest rival -- a country mile on a street course. Melo and his team mate, Pierre Kaffer of Germany, are both fans of the track, despite the latter having only driven here for the first time this morning in damp track conditions.

Melo said after qualifying: "As everyone knows, this is a really tough track so it's important to start from pole. I didn't think it was a very good lap but it was enough to be on pole so I'm happy; it's a track where you need to take a lot of risks, especially in qualifying, and I got what I wanted. The guys did a very good job on the car and Rick [Mayer, race engineer] on the set up so we are good for the race. There's still some mid-corner understeer which penalised me a bit, but for the race I don't think that will be a problem."

The 2007 GT2 Drivers' Champion has endured a difficult build up to the season, having broken his ankle in November, but proved today that he has returned to the American Le Mans Series as committed and fast as ever. "My ankle is a lot better compared to Sebring, where I had some cramps during the race" said Jaime. "I spent the time between Sebring and here in Houston [the team's base] and did some special exercises for it so hopefully it will be okay now. Every week is better."

A large number of guests from Risi's main sponsor, Motorola, will be attending the 1 hour 55 minute race tomorrow, and they will all be hoping to see the red Ferrari cruising to its second consecutive race win of the 2009 ALMS season. As one of the most stalwart of ALMS entrants, the privately-owned Houston team is, however, well aware of the high level of competition and the challenge ahead from the Porsches and BMWs in the GT2 class. Let the racing begin!

-credit: rc

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Jaime Melo , Pierre Kaffer
Teams Risi Competizione