RISI COMPETIZIONE FERRARI ON PROVISIONAL GT2 POLE
Risi Competizione's Gianmaria Bruni, driving the No.82 Ferrari F430 GTC, was the only GT2 driver to break the four minute per lap barrier in the first qualifying session for Saturday's 24 Hours of Le Mans, the world's most famous and prestigious sports car race.
The Italian's time of 3:59.233, set at the auspicious [European] hour of 22:22, came relatively soon after the start of Wednesday's two-hour qualifying on the huge and extremely fast 8.47 mile (13.6km) circuit -- the first of three such sessions to be held over the next 48 hours. It followed a productive four-hour practice session this afternoon during which all six of Risi and Krohn's drivers were able to re-familiarize themselves with the track and the challenge that is Le Mans. Driving the Krohn green No. 83 Ferrari, Nic Jonsson set a fastest time of 4:03.959 to take a provisional 9th place in the intensively competitive GT2 class.
Despite 40 of the 120 minutes being lost to red flag stoppages -- after different competitors throughout the field's four categories experienced misfortunes -- both the No. 82 and 83 Ferraris achieved the program they had set out for themselves at the beginning of the day; to find a good race set up.
The Rosso red Ferrari's program was somewhat curtailed when it suffered a transmission problem soon after Bruni set his quickest lap time of the day. After investigation by the two-time GT2 class winning Risi mechanics, this was attributed to a failed gearbox output shaft -- a part that was at the end of its scheduled life and due to be changed tomorrow (Thursday). The car was wheeled into the pit garage shortly before 10:30 pm and work immediately started on preparing it for the remaining four hours of qualifying before Saturday's race.
Bruni said of his evening's work: "It was difficult to find a clear lap but this one (the fast lap) was on my fifth lap so the tires were not so good! I had two good laps before that, and was quick in Sectors 1 and 2, but got traffic at the end of each lap. I slowed down once and went again. It's good, I'm pleased because we worked hard to find a fast and comfortable set up on the car in the practice session this afternoon and now the car is very good."
Houston's Tracy Krohn watched his Krohn Racing colleague, Nic Jonsson, place the green and blue Ferrari in a very respectable 9th place on the provisional GT2 grid (behind four other Ferraris, two Corvettes and two Porsches but in front of two BMWs, an Aston Martin and a further three Porsches). The trio of Krohn, Jonsson and van de Poele, all experienced and successful Le Mans drivers, were very satisfied with their day's work, summed up by Tracy Krohn at the end of the day.
"We started off not too bad, and actually fairly close to a good set up. We had a little oversteer in the car and we worked on that and now it's pretty good. Nic claimed a good lap, and I got out in the pitch black and did three laps right there at the end but there were a couple of problems on the track which held me back. But it's good and we're pleased with where we are right now; I feel good about it.
Krohn continued, "You can tell that the speeds of the prototypes especially, and the field in general, has picked up since last year but the real issue is more that certain prototypes are much slower. That's been a bigger issue than the ones at the top of the time sheets -- you know what they are going to do but some of the others are an unknown. It's much more comfortable coming here knowing the track and the routine; knowing where you should be at certain points in the week. We are right where we need to be."
Qualifying for the 78th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans will continue on Thursday with sessions from 7:00-9:00pm and 10:00 pm to Midnight, although rain is forecast for tomorrow so today's times may not be improved upon. The Houston-based Risi team, while delighted with Wednesday's outcome, holds true to its long-held belief that to succeed in endurance racing you have to finish first in the race, and not necessarily first in the qualifying battle. And a battle it will be...stay tuned.
%-source: Risi Competizione