Daytona 24: Risi Competizione preview

Risi Competizione returns to the Rolex 24 at Daytona with a strong international cast and two fast Ferraris. The 24-hour endurance race is set for Feb. 1 and 2 on the 3.56-mile Daytona International Speedway road course in Daytona Beach, ...

Risi Competizione returns to the Rolex 24 at Daytona with a strong international cast and two fast Ferraris. The 24-hour endurance race is set for Feb. 1 and 2 on the 3.56-mile Daytona International Speedway road course in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Houston-based Risi Competizione will field the No. 35 Ferrari 360 Modena GT driven by Ralf Kelleners of Germany and Anthony Lazzaro of Acworth, Ga. English racer Johnny Mowlem will join them for the Daytona race. The Ferrari will carry the colors of another innovative, high-performance team - Calpont, a leader in hardware-based computer solutions.

Kelleners and Lazzaro have already scored two GT podium finishes in the car's first two races. They each have two class wins in the Daytona 24-hour race, including a victory together last year. Kelleners has also topped the class podium at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Mowlem adds a winning record that includes two class podium finishes at Le Mans.

The Risi crew will also prepare the No. 34 Ferrari 360 Modena GT for Ferri Competizione. Formula One veterans Mauro Baldi of Monaco and Eric van de Poele of Belgium will share the car with Ryan Hampton of Chandler, Ariz., and Justin Keen of England. Baldi has two wins at Daytona and one at Le Mans; van de Poele has three class wins at Le Mans.

winning teamwork

Kelleners credits team owner Giuseppe Risi with building a first-class team at a level usually associated with the more powerful prototype cars. "Giuseppe is really committed to giving everything to the project that it needs to be successful," Kelleners said. "He doesn't want to take chances. He wants to do it right and he wants to do whatever is possible."

Mowlem believes teamwork will be the key to victory. "The team are very well-gelled and work extremely well together," he said. "Anthony, Ralf and I have really clicked, as well. We've all got our egos firmly in our back pockets, which is ultimately what you need for a 24-hour race. I've got every confidence the team are going to do their job and hopefully if the drivers do theirs and we keep out of trouble and have a lot of luck, we'll be there at the end and have a great result, not just in GT but overall, as well."

fast Ferrari

The Risi Competizione and Ferri Competizione Ferraris were built by Ferrari SpA in Italy. They carry the heritage of thoroughbred race cars, where driver precision is rewarded.

"To be fast, you have to walk a fine line," Kelleners explained. "In the Lola [the prototype car he drove last year], you could throw the car in the corners and the harder you threw it in the corner and the more aggressive you were, the faster you went. It's not the same with this car and specifically the GT class because they are under-powered, so you have to come up to a certain level and then try to to balance it on this level. You have to find the exact line."

-rc/sp-

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