Risi Competizione Ferrari team readies for Daytona

The 39th Annual Rolex 24 at Daytona, February 3-4, 2001, will feature an outstanding driver line-up in the popular Risi Competizione Ferrari Team. They will field a new No. 12 Ferrari 333 SP, with stellar sports car pilots Ralf Kelleners,...

The 39th Annual Rolex 24 at Daytona, February 3-4, 2001, will feature an outstanding driver line-up in the popular Risi Competizione Ferrari Team. They will field a new No. 12 Ferrari 333 SP, with stellar sports car pilots Ralf Kelleners, Eric van de Poele, Allan McNish, and David Brabham.

The new Ferrari 333 SP chassis, number 37, was the most recently produced chassis by Michelotto and is one of the last cars built. Risi Competizione will field the legendary make for this year’s running of the Grand American Road Racing Association-sanctioned twice-around-the-clock endurance race.

“We are pleased to once again field the Ferrari 333 SP, as we have successfully for over three seasons,” said team owner and Ferrari of Houston principal Giuseppe Risi. “The Ferrari 333 SP has earned its place in sports car racing history and we hope to add to that history this year at Daytona. Although the 333 SP has run its course technically for a professional team, such as Risi Competizione, there’s still life for the car in a less professional format. We believe that the team, on a technical level, provides a platform of excellence. Add the Ferrari name to that level, then drivers that match, and it is the highest standard.”

The most recently built Ferrari 333 SP was delivered the first of January, thus unable to attend the Daytona Test Days. The Risi Competizione team had a private test with drivers Kelleners and van de Poele on January 22-23 at Texas World Speedway to shake down the new chassis.

“The test was very successful,” said John McLoughlin, team engineer and co-owner with Giuseppe Risi. “The Ferrari 333 is a fantastic car and always a pleasure to race. Although we realize this is most likely her last race, we plan to have great fun at Daytona and add some marvelous history to this classic piece of machinery.”

German sports car ace Ralf Kelleners rejoins the Risi Competizione team for this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona. Kelleners teamed with Mimmo Schiattarella last season for three podium finishes, one second place finish at Phoenix and two thirds (Lime Rock Park and Daytona’s sprint race), in the No. 12 Ferrari of the 2000 Grand-Am series. They rounded out the season with two more top five finishes, a fourth at Mid-Ohio and fifth at Trois Rivieres, Canada.

Belgian Eric van de Poele joined the Risi Competizione Ferrari cockpit at Road America, subbing for Kelleners and co-driving with Schiattarella to a second place finish. He also drove with both Kelleners and Schiattarella at the 6 Hours of Watkins Glen endurance race. Van de Poele experienced success with the Doyle-Risi team in 1998, including a victory with co-driver Wayne Taylor at Las Vegas and in the inaugural Petit Le Mans, as well as a class victory at the 24 Hours of LeMans.

Allan McNish captured the 2000 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) championship with his victory in the factory Audi R8 at the Race of a Thousand Years in Adelaide, Australia on New Year’s Eve. The Scotsman collected six wins, ten podium finishes, four pole positions, six fastest laps and five lap records during the 2000 season.

David Brabham, a former Formula One driver from the famous racing family, has also joined the Risi Competizione Ferrari team for this year’s 24 Hours of Daytona. Brabham, who has competed for four seasons with Panoz Motor Sports on the ALMS series, has had three overall victories and three class victories with the Panoz, including an overall victory at Nürburgring, Germany, last year with teammate Jan Magnusson. In 2000, Brabham was on the podium seven times with successes with the Panoz LMP Roadster. David, an Australian, is a son of racing’s famous Sir Jack Brabham, along with brothers Geoff and Gary.

The Goodyear-shod No. 12 Risi Competizione Ferrari will also carry signage from Seitel, a seismic acquisition specialist, for the 24 hour classic. Seitel markets its proprietary seismic information/technology to more than 400 petroleum companies, selling data from its library and creating new seismic survey under multi-client projects. It also selectively participates in oil and natural gas exploration and development programs with over 100 petroleum-industry partners.

“We are very excited as a company to have the opportunity to sponsor the last Ferrari 333 SP to be built and raced in the 24 Hours of Daytona,” said Paul Frame, CEO of Seitel. “Participating as a corporate sponsor of a global 24 hour broadcasting of a single event, gives the opportunity for more viewers than ever in its history. What a great bunch of names…Risi, McNish, Brabham, Van de Poele, Kelleners, Ferrari and Seitel. The association is wonderful.”

This year’s 39th annual running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona is expected to be the venerable Ferrari 333 SP’s last major professional racing appearance.

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Series GRANDAM