CRUEL DISAPPOINTMENT FOR RISI CHAMPIONS BUT FINE START FOR NEWCOMERS FRIESACHER AND BRIX The cruel hand of fate played its tricks on the Risi Competizione team today in the Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg, Florida. Jaime Melo in...
CRUEL DISAPPOINTMENT FOR RISI CHAMPIONS BUT FINE START FOR NEWCOMERS FRIESACHER AND BRIX
The cruel hand of fate played its tricks on the Risi Competizione team today in the Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg, Florida. Jaime Melo in the #62 Risi Ferrari 430 GT was leading the GT2 class when, just thirty minutes before the checkered flag was due to fall, an electrical problem caused a loss of power. Patrick Friesacher was the innocent victim of an incident involving two other cars and was tapped into the tire wall, losing him fourth place in class.
Melo fortunately managed to bring the car back to the pits for repairs -- the team fitted an additional battery into the car to provide alternator power - but the #62 lost six laps to the class leader by the time it rejoined the race. Despite not lapping at full speed, the car ran to the finish and was classified in 10th place for valuable Championship points.
Melo's team mate, Mika Salo, had started the race in second place on the GT2 grid - the first time since Lime Rock last year that a Risi car was not in pole position. When his tires came in after the first six laps, the flying Finn was the fastest GT2 car on track and, 24 minutes in, made a pass on class leader Wolf Henzler in the #45 Flying Lizard Porsche to head the field. Salo's stint was somewhat shorter than planned as he was suffering from heat exhaustion, and Melo took the wheel after 38 minutes. Astute pit stop strategy by the Risi team saw Melo return to head the field after a full course caution period just before the hour mark in this 1 hour 55 minute race, a lead he held until the electrical problem.
Salo said afterwards, "The air conditioning broke down so it was really, really hot in the car. I was following another car closely all the time and my head started spinning with the heat, and I started making mistakes so I knew I had to stop. If I'd continued, I'd have lost it. The result is very disappointing as that's another one that didn't go our way -- let's hope Long Beach will bring a turn in our luck."
(On his pass on Henzler): "I knew I wouldn't get by him just like that so I left a little gap for a few laps and then closed it up again as I could see ahead that we were catching the Ford GT. Henzler made a small mistake under braking and I took advantage and went around him."
For series newcomers, Harrison Brix and Patrick Friesacher in the #61 Risi Ferrari 430 GT, a fifth place finish in class was a reward for a consistent run and staying largely out of trouble. Friesacher was the innocent victim of the late-in-the-race tangle between the #20 P2 Dyson Porsche and the #45 GT2 Flying Lizard Porsche, and was pushed into a tire wall. Due to his unfamiliarity with the car, he was unable to quickly find reverse gear and was passed by the #48 Corsa Ferrari for fourth place.
Both drivers were judged by the team to have acquitted themselves extremely well, despite neither having the benefit of air conditioning during the race. Brix, who started the race, smelt burning rubber after just a few laps into his stint and his quick actions in turning off the car's cockpit cooling system prevented a far more serious problem from occurring. He remained on the lead lap until his stop, and Friesacher was able turn lap times on a par with the GT2 leaders so the team was very encouraged by their pace and adaptation to the level of competition that is found in the American Le Mans Series.
-credit: risi competizione