MELO LEADS THE FERRARI ASSAULT ON LE MANS
Winners of the GT2 category twelve months ago, Risi Competizione showed that they will still be a force to be reckoned with in this weekend's 24 Hours of Le Mans with a perfect display of speed, reliability and consistency during today's qualifying session.
Jaime Melo set the fastest time of the ten Ferrari 430s which will be battling five Porsches, a Spyker and an Aston Martin for GT2 honors in the world's most famous endurance race. His time of 4:04.056 was set under the hours of darkness in the third of the four hours of qualifying but was not enough to be able to match the Flying Lizard Motorsport Porsche of Jorg Bergmeister who claimed pole position. Melo's Red number 82 will line up in third place in the category, while Nic Jonsson's time of 4:08.758 places him and his Krohn Racing colleagues in the distinctive Krohn Aviation-liveried number 83 on the sixth row of the GT2 grid.
Both Risi Competizione entries profited from the first proper dry running of the week so far to work on set up and carry out longer fuel and tire runs as well as assess the real race pace of their cars. Team Principal, Giuseppe Risi, said after the end of the evening, "I am satisfied that we managed to run through the program we'd set ourselves for these last two days, despite yesterday's inclement weather. Jaime is pleased with the balance of the car, which is the most important thing, and I know that Tracy was really enjoying his night laps in the car -- he didn't want to come back into the pits and stop! We now just have to have a smooth run for the race and in particular try and avoid any pit stop penalties. These new regulations are likely to catch out more than one team but I hope that we aren't one of them."
Jaime Melo: "I was hoping to get out a bit earlier in the second session [the car was slightly delayed by the completion of some scheduled pre-race mechanical preparation] to get some daylight and I think I could have been a little bit faster then. In the dark you cannot see your lines as well so you are a bit more conservative. I'm happy as third is not bad and the important thing is that the car is really well balanced; we will be able to keep a good lap time which gives me a lot of confidence for the race."
Nic Jonsson: "It's great to get a few dry laps in before the race. The Risi Competizione and Krohn Racing guys did a great job to set the car up and it seems to be very mechanically sound. Everything is working very well, we tried a few different types of tire and it seems like the soft tire in the night will work well to get rid of the understeer. We know we won't win this race on speed but we can win it by being smart and staying out of trouble and out of the pits. That's what we are focussing on and what we will be concentrating on doing. I'm looking forward to it."