WITH ALMS CHAMPIONSHIP ON THE LINE, MIKA SALO AND STEPHANE ORTELLI RETURN TO RISI COMPETIZIONE FOR THE FINAL RACE OF THE SEASON. Houston, Texas - Risi Competizione announced today that Mika Salo and Stephane Ortelli, who between them accounted...
WITH ALMS CHAMPIONSHIP ON THE LINE, MIKA SALO AND STEPHANE ORTELLI RETURN TO RISI COMPETIZIONE FOR THE FINAL RACE OF THE SEASON.
Houston, Texas - Risi Competizione announced today that Mika Salo and Stephane Ortelli, who between them accounted for three of Risi Competizione's American Le Mans Series (ALMS) victories this year, will again drive the team's 'rosso corsa' Ferrari F430GT during the final ALMS race of the season at Laguna Seca, the Monterey Sports Car Championships, on Saturday.
Salo, driving with Brazilian partner Jaime Melo, won back-to-back races for the team at the Salt Lake City Grand Prix and the Grand Prix of Portland in mid-season, coming from last place to first in both races. Prior racing commitments which necessitated that both Salo and Melo return to Europe for the remainder of the FIA-GT series, a series which Jaime Melo clinched in a Ferrari F430GT at Adria (Italy) last weekend. Stephane Ortelli, who drove the car to victory at the Mosport Grand Prix this year, will join up with former Ferrari F1 driver Mike Salo for the team's last race of the 2006 ALMS season this weekend. The final race at Laguna Seca is especially critical as it will determine the winner of the 2006 ALMS GT2 Teams' Championship: Risi Competizione need to finish either first or second to be sure of clinching the title. Risi Competizione (138 points) goes into this Saturday's 2 hour and 45 minute race with a 6-point cushion over the Flying Lizard (Porsche) squad and a 10-point advantage over the third placed Peterson/White Lightening (Porsche) team.
"This is a crucial race," comments Team Manager Dave Sims, "and we are absolutely delighted to have Mika and Stephane back. Risi Competizione has a chance to do something Ferrari has never done before: win the Teams' Championship in ALMS. We could not have our fortunes in better hands. Our job now is to prepare the cars to the best of our ability, knowing that Mika and Stephane will drive it to the best of theirs"
The team of Salo and Ortelli is a formidable one. Salo was in the driver's seat when the team won the Utah and Portland ALMS races and Ortelli led the team to victory at Mosport, having started from the pole. The team has been quick all season, qualifying on the pole in five races (Houston, Utah, Portland, Mosport, Petite Le Mans) and delivering the fastest lap in four races (Sebring, Houston, Utah, Portland). The team's sister car, the Number 61 R. Ferri Competizione/Giacomo Mattioli F430 GT, has qualified on the pole in one race (Lime Rock) and turned in the fastest lap in one (Mosport). The pairing of Salo and Orthelli is the 7th different driving team out of 10 races this year.
During 2006, Mika Salo has delivered stirring drives all season, including a now-legendary final stint at Portland where he pushed the car into first position in the closing laps to complete a come-from-behind win kicked off by a brilliant opening stint from Melo. Ortelli drove the Ferrari to domination at Mosport (Ferrari's first ever 1-2 finish in ALMS GT2) and, as co-driver Johnny Mowlem said after the race, "made it easy for me to bring it home in first".
That Risi Competizione should find itself on the verge of a historic championship in the final race of the season seems appropriately dramatic, given the rise and fall of its fortunes over the season. "This is as good as it gets in this sport," said Team Managing Director Giuseppe Risi. We have raced from spring until fall, over 9 different tracks, through two long endurance races, in the heat and the wet and still the championship comes down to one race. We have confidence in our Michelin tires, our drivers, our team and our car and our competitors feel the same way. For a championship race like this, you can toss out the idea of playing it safe. Every lap is going to be like a round in a heavy weight championship fight and no one is going to back down. Fans who have followed the series all season are going to be rewarded with an epic race at Monterey."
-credit: risi competizione