RISI COMPETIZIONE LEAD A FERRARI WHITEWASH AT LE MANS
1ST AND 3RD PLACES FOR THE HOUSTON TEAM IN THE GT2 CLASS
In today's 77th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, won overall by Peugeot Sport, the Houston-based Risi Competizione team once again demonstrated its dominance in endurance GT racing by winning the GT2 class for the second year in succession with a two lap advantage over the second placed finisher, BMS Scuderia Italia. This is the fourth endurance win for the team owned by privateer Giuseppe Risi, and comes after 2008 Le Mans, 2008 Petit Le Mans and 2009 Sebring 12 Hours.
The Ferrari 430 GT of Jaime Melo, Mika Salo and Pierre Kaffer was not only joined on the podium by its sister Ferrari which finished third -- crewed by Krohn Racing's Tracy Krohn, Nic Jonsson and Eric van de Poele -- but they led an astonishing Ferrari result which shows that nine of the ten Ferrari 430s entered in the race were classified in the top 11 places in class. Only a Spyker intruded in an all-Ferrari top ten.
In the year that the Italian marque celebrates the 60th Anniversary of its last overall win of the world's most famous and sportscar race, it is a result that Ferrari's President can be proud of. As official starter of this weekend's 24 hour race, Luca di Montezemolo, made mention whilst at Le Mans of the very high level of competition between all automobile manufacturers entered in the race and of how much regard he had for the event.
The #82 Ferrari of Melo, Salo and Kaffer had a faultless race, with no mechanical worries, and were able to profit from a well prepared car, consistent and reliable Michelin tires, a superb driver line up which had the experience and skill to outlast many of their competitors in varying temperatures and track conditions, and a team which didn't put a foot wrong throughout the entire 24 hours.
The only unscheduled pit stop was for an additional set of tires on Sunday morning at 0927 hrs. It was a similar story for the #83 Krohn green car which also only had one unscheduled pit stop for tires at 0109 hrs on Sunday morning. Both cars stopped 26 times during the twice round the clock event, and led the GT2 category from the sixth hour to the chequered flag.
Team Principal Giuseppe Risi was overwhelmed by what had been achieved. "This is a very special day; winning this again after what we did last year makes it even more so. To have ten Ferraris here and have two of our cars placed in the top three is a simply magnificent result. These are the best teams in the world who race here so it is extremely special to have achieved this outcome, and to have entered the history books as part of Ferrari's racing folklore. I can't say enough about it."
Mika Salo didn't consider that this victory was any harder than last year's. "It's the same but we had a lot of opposition this year, faster cars than last year, but it's a 24 hour race so lots of them had problems and in the end it was only our car which worked perfectly and didn't have any mistakes. To have three Ferraris on the podium and two of them from Risi is pretty good for the team who did an excellent job. It's easier to win this race when you know how to do it already, like from last year. You know you don't have to be the fastest; you just have to save the car a little bit, be careful not to make mistakes and hit anybody or let them hit you. In the beginning of this year's race we had to go a little faster than last year, but it turned out very well."
Jaime Melo: "To be honest I didn't expect to see the Porsches out of the challenge from the first few hours. Before the race we all though they were really strong, but I think Risi Competizione has really prepared well for this race in the past year as well as more recently. Pierre, Mika and were able to do really consistent lap times, and it was a really easy car to drive so that helped us to do our job. Like Mika said we had no problems. Tire changes were perfect every time so we need to say thanks to Risi Competizione for those and to Michelin as well as we could triple stint the tires from quite early on. "
Pierre Kaffer: "It's my first year with Risi Competizione and if you ask me whether I have experienced more pressure to do well at this or any other event, then it would be in Sebring because it's always difficult there for whoever joins a team to be on the pace and there can be disappointment. Jaime and I do the ALMS and in America sometimes it's difficult for me as I don't know tracks yet. Here in Le Mans I know it really well and I have the self confidence. I know we have a very good car, and a very good base for this year and Risi do always a great job on preparation and everything to do with the strategy. Everyone works for the same result; every mechanic didn't just do their job but made they also did it for the victory. I am proud to join such a nice team, to be a little part of this team and it will be nice to be there. "
Nic Jonsson: "This result is fantastic; for us it's just like a win. Having the #82 sister car taking the win and us taking third in the whole scheme of things is like a win for the whole team. Risi Competizione have done a fantastic job gain. Both cars ran flawlessly the whole way through and there's very few teams you could say that about: it's unbelievable and astonishing. You almost get goose bumps every time you go out there on the podium -- it's the biggest sportscar race in the world. You can win races back in the States and stuff, but to finish third here is probably better than any win in the USA. And to do it the way we did it! You just have to stay out of trouble, be patient, try not to race people we know we can't out-race. Of course, Tracy started racing just six or seven years ago and has been on the podium twice at Le Mans and it's always a team effort. We've done that,l; it's a great result for him and a big thanks to Giuseppe Risi for being part of this team. I can't say enough that I'm happy."
Tracy Krohn: "I bumped into Ron Fellows [former Corvette driver and now consultant] about midnight and after we'd chatted and just as I was leaving he said "Tracy, keep it on the track." To stand up there for the second time in three years is awesome; you're stunned and on top of that it's a very knowledgeable group of fans. Nine of the 10 Ferraris finished -- it's phenomenal and, absolutely, to be part of that in what is not just an endurance race, but rather a sprint race is humbling. You have to remember that we don't drive this car very often [The Ferrari), the three of us. You couldn't have predicted what might happen...it's becoming pretty good."
Eric van de Poele: "I've been part of a winning team in three different classes at Le Mans and even though we didn't win today we had a podium and had a special result. It's much easier when you are with a good team and people around you, and of course when you get the right material. Here [at Le Mans] you have to say it's tough for GT2 competition and even if I was dreaming about a podium in my head I thought it was nearly impossible. But we had a good strategy and we knew we had good package in general with tires, car, and drivers as well. Absolutely no problems at all and could save time in pits and it's a real team effort and especially here because all the pit stops were faultless."