St. Pete: Risi Competizione qualifying report

FRONT ROW START FOR RISI Jaime Melo in his ...

FRONT ROW START FOR RISI

Jaime Melo in his #62 Risi Competizione Ferrari F430 GT as always gave it everything in today's qualifying session, but was ultimately denied the GT2 pole position by traffic and one tenth of a second. His time of 1:11.863 will see him line up alongside the #45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche of Wolf Henzler for the start of tomorrow's second round of the 2008 American Le Mans Series in St. Petersburg, Florida. The two fastest times today were both under the 2007 qualifying lap record and an indication of the raised level of competition that the team faces this year.

The Brazilian, now a Houston resident, said afterwards: "I got caught in traffic on what would have been my fastest lap so I have to say I'm a bit disappointed as I think we could have been better. The Ferrari is good here, we have a good set up, and I am sure we could have just got those few tenths of a second. I am confident we have a very balanced and consistent car for the race, and I think we can keep a very good pace against the Porsches. The track changes a little bit each session and is getting better each time, with more grip. For sure tomorrow will be better still."

Risi Competizione's new driver pairing in the #61 Ferrari has taken a sensible and steady approach to their first race, getting to know the car, the track and the series -- despite being hampered by a technical issue. Patrick Friesacher and his engineer, Mark Schomann, played a smart strategic game in qualifying by waiting for a full half of the 20-minute session to tick by before leaving the pits. By this stage the track was almost empty and the Austrian was able to steadily chip away at his lap times before setting his fastest time of 1:13.611 to place him seventh in class. That he had to do this without the benefit of power steering or driver cooling aids, due to an electrical glitch, is all the more admirable.

Patrick Friesacher (on qualifying): "I'm a little bit disappointed because we missed the second practice -- Harrison just did a few laps -- with the electrical problem, and we need all the time we can get in the car to get used to it. In qualifying it was my first time on new tires and was not really used to the grip."

(On his first race in a GT sportscar): "I think the pace is good but we just need time in the car. It was a little bit strange to begin with, the car being so much heavier and wider than what I am used to, but now is okay. You have to turn in to corners much more carefully than in a formula car; you can't throw the car into the corner."

-credit: risi competizione

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Jaime Melo , Patrick Friesacher , Wolf Henzler
Teams Risi Competizione , Flying Lizard Motorsports