RISI OVERCOME EARLY ADVERSITY TO TAKE PODIUM FINISH IN UTAH Pierre Kaffer and Jaime Melo showed their true mettle as GT sports car drivers in the Utah Grand Prix today by storming through from the back of the field in their Risi Competizione ...
RISI OVERCOME EARLY ADVERSITY TO TAKE PODIUM FINISH IN UTAH
Pierre Kaffer and Jaime Melo showed their true mettle as GT sports car drivers in the Utah Grand Prix today by storming through from the back of the field in their Risi Competizione Ferrari 430 GT to a podium finish.
Despite starting from the front row of the GT2 grid, Pierre Kaffer was knocked into a fast, 180 degree spin by another car on the very first lap of the 2 hour 45 minute race and found himself at the very back of the 23 car field with four Michelin tires that were now in less than perfect condition. That Kaffer managed to hold the Ferrari without incurring any damage to it or any other competitor is creditable.
After a quick stop on the fifth lap of the race to change tires and clean out the radiators to prevent any possible overheating, Kaffer then set about making his way through the field. By lapping at least three seconds a lap quicker than his nearest rivals, he soon started making progress and, by the time he pitted on lap 42 to hand over to Melo, he was in third place.
With Risi's pit stop strategy out of kilter with its rivals, due to its early, unscheduled stop, Melo found himself running fourth in class, nearly 30 seconds behind the third-placed PTG Panoz. The Brazilian, however, loves nothing more than a challenge and he proceeded to consistently and doggedly close down the gap over the next 20 laps until he was within striking distance of the podium place. Once past the Panoz, he continued to lay down a string of fast laps to extend the distance between the two cars and give the team's strategists a greater 'comfort zone' in which to hold the second and final pit stop -- a splash of fuel only.
Risi Competizione's third place, behind the winning Flying Lizard Porsche and the second placed Farnbacher Loles Porsche, means that both drivers, the team and Ferrari retain their second place in the American Le Mans Series Championship standings.
Pierre Kaffer: "I don't really know what happened at the start, we shall have to investigate it. It's the first time I've ever spun on the straight and I was really scared that the car would be damaged by luckily nothing happened, except for the tires.
"Jaime did a great job at the end and third is the maximum we could have achieved in the circumstances. You know that here at Risi Competizione and at Ferrari we never give up and today's result shows that very well."
Jaime Melo: "The team did a very good job on our pit stops and our strategy to help us get to this result today. I had a lot of mid corner oversteer in the car which made it very hard to keep consistent. I'm disappointed as we had a good car to fight with the Porsches, and the result could have been better if we hadn't had the contact at the start, but that's racing."
Risi Competizione is a Houston-based Ferrari racing team lead by Managing Director Giuseppe Risi. Official team sponsors include Motorola, Boardwalk Auto Group, AdShip, Ferrari Financial Services and Ferrari of Houston.
The next race for Risi Competizione will be the 24 Hours of Le Mans on 13/14th June in France when the team will be defending its 2008 GT2 crown.