Risi Competizione Watkins Glen preview

Watkins Glen, New York - The inaugural Grand American Road Racing Association season draws to a close this weekend at the famed Watkins Glen International Speedway for the Watkins Glen Bosch Summerfest, August 25-27. Three sportscar...

Watkins Glen, New York - The inaugural Grand American Road Racing Association season draws to a close this weekend at the famed Watkins Glen International Speedway for the Watkins Glen Bosch Summerfest, August 25-27. Three sportscar veterans hope to pilot the No. 12 Risi Competizione Ferrari 333 SP to victory in the final battle of the year. Risi's season-long drivers Mimmo Schiattarella and Ralf Kelleners will team with Eric Van de Poele in the revered Italian machine for the season-ending endurance event at the 3.4-mile New York road course. Kelleners competed at Watkins Glen in 1998, taking third in the Champion Porsche during his first and only outing on the historic American circuit. "I like the Watkins Glen circuit very much, and I think it is one of the more beautiful circuits to race on," Kelleners said. "I look forward to going back. In 1998 we led for a lot of the race and could have won but ended up taking the class win as some of the prototypes got past due to a safety car situation late in the race. I was very competitive on the track and look forward to going back." Kelleners is excited about the prospect of racing on the circuit in the Ferrari and feels as though it could be one of the more competitive races for the team this year. "There is a chance to get to drive the Ferrari again in the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, so the better the finish here the better the chances of driving again in Daytona," he added. Driving the Risi Ferrari 333 SP for the entire season with Kelleners, Italian Mimmo Schiattarella enjoys the new circuits on which the Grand-Am series compete. He has never raced at Watkins Glen, but tasted victory in his inaugural U.S. sports car competition at Road Atlanta in April of 1999, and is now looking forward to another new circuit. "My hope is that the red Risi Competizione Ferrari will run perfectly on an historical track where my hero Gilles Villeneuve, with the same number 12, won in 1979," said Schiattarella, a former Formula One driver. "One of the most exciting parts of racing with the Risi team is that we have to face wonderful tracks. The fact that most of them are new to me is even better because I'm enjoying the races double." The Italian is the only driver on the team to have competed with both of the other drivers. Van de Poele substituted for Kelleners at the Grand-Am event at Road America in July, where he and Schiattarella were at the front for much of the race, eventually finishing in second-place. "Ralf and Eric are two great guys and I work well with them. Of course, I have driven this entire season with Ralf and last year I drove with Eric in the American Le Mans Series, so I look forward to driving with both of them in the same race at Watkins Glen." Rounding out the driving duties for the No. 12 Risi Ferrari 333 SP is Eric Van de Poele. Van de Poele has competed most of the 2000 season with the Cadillac LMP program as they continue development on their sports car effort for 2001. He is excited about the opportunity to drive the Italian marque on another historic U.S. circuit. "I'm very much looking forward to driving with the Risi team again and I love the Watkins Glen track," he said. "It is one of the best in America. In the 6 Hours with the Ferrari we have a good chance because the longer the race, the better chance for us, even with the fuel mileage. With yellows and the pit strategy of (Technical Director) John McLoughlin, we can do well. That is what happened at Road America - lots of yellows and good strategy helped us finish second and even lead the race," Van de Pole added. "We are optimistic about the Watkins Glen race," said John McLoughlin, who is the key strategist for the team. "The Ferrari has a strong reliability factor and has had success at The Glen in the past. These are different times, but we still feel keen about the strength of the Ferrari." Risi Competizione, formerly Doyle-Risi Racing, is owned by Ferrari of Houston principal Giuseppe Risi and Technical Director John McLoughlin, who campaigned the Ferrari 333 SP for the 1998 and 1999 seasons. Sponsorship for the team comes from Enron and Coollink.com. The car competes on Goodyear Eagle racing tires. The season finale for the inaugural Grand American Road Racing Series looks to provide some of the best racing action of the year as drivers and teams battle for final points towards the year-end championships.

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series GRANDAM