RISI DARING TO DREAM OF A DETROIT DOUBLE Houston, Tx, August 26, 2008. This time last year the Houston-based Risi Competizione team were riding on the crest of a wave, traveling to Detroit from Canada on the back of their sixth GT2 class win...
RISI DARING TO DREAM OF A DETROIT DOUBLE
Houston, Tx, August 26, 2008. This time last year the Houston-based Risi Competizione team were riding on the crest of a wave, traveling to Detroit from Canada on the back of their sixth GT2 class win in a season they could rightly call their own.
The wave may be slower to build in 2008, but the tide definitely turned last weekend with the team's first ALMS victory of the year at the Mosport track in Ontario. Jaime Melo and Mika Salo took a convincing win in a hotly contested and thrilling GT2 race, and the Brazilian-Finnish duo are now looking forward with renewed enthusiasm to this weekend's forthcoming Detroit Sports Car Challenge at the superb Belle Isle street course. They won the inaugural race here last year, and will be keen to double up in Detroit as Risi have three-peated in Mosport (victories in 2006, 07 and now 08).
A warm welcome back is also on the cards for the #61 car which was not at Mosport. Harrison Brix will be making his debut on the 2.1 mile street course along with Rob Bell -- the Briton returning to the ALMS fresh from a double race victory in the FIA GT Championship's most recent event in Bucharest, Romania.
Bell's recent experience of street courses will be extremely useful at Detroit, referred to by Risi's engineering team as a semi-permanent street course. The surface varies from concrete to asphalt with some of the concrete being grooved in the direction of travel, delivering high grip, and some looking like normal concrete slabs, with a brushed surface.
The American Le Mans Series cars will be the first to take to the track on Friday so a very slippery, and probably dirty, track will be awaiting everyone.
Coming directly after visits to two of the season's fastest tracks -- Road America and Mosport -- the skills required by the drivers on the 14-turn course will be somewhat different to those used recently.
As Jaime Melo confirms: "It's a completely different track compared with Road America and Mosport obviously. It's very dirty, especially at the beginning of the weekend and quite bumpy in places -- more than Long Beach for example. Detroit is more like a road course with walls than a street course. Last year we had a very good car there and raced well, keeping a good pace when we needed it.
"This year will be a little bit different because we are in the situation where we need to get as many points as possible to catch up, so we need to work really hard to get a good set up to have a good qualifying position. It's important on a street track to try and get on the front row as it's difficult to overtake.
"I love street tracks," continues Melo. "They excite me because they are not only different but they are difficult as well. I like the challenge. The place where the track is situated is really beautiful and for sure it's a special race; everyone from motorsport is there watching so it's a great atmosphere."
-credit: risi competizione