PODIUM FINISH FOR ...
PODIUM FINISH FOR #62 RISI FERRARI IN LIME ROCK THRILLER
Today's Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut was a valuable lesson in never giving up, no matter what obstacles are thrown in your path along the way.
Both Risi Ferrari 430 GT cars finished in points scoring positions despite incidents during the race, with current GT2 Drivers Champions Jaime Melo and Mika Salo taking the #62 to third in the GT2 class, their first podium finish of the American Le Mans Series season. Patrick Friesacher and Harrison Brix overcame a number of hurdles to bring the #61 home in sixth place. The #45 Flying Lizard Porsche of Wolf Henzler and Jorg Bergmeister finished first, followed by the #87 Farnbacher Loles Porsche of Richard Westbrook and Dirk Werner.
There were incidents and accidents aplenty during the two hour 45 minute race, right up to the very last lap. Mika Salo made the start in the #62 car from the front row of the GT2 grid and had completed only ten laps when a prototype made contact with his car causing a right rear puncture. The stop for new Michelin tires caused him to lose a lap to the class leaders but the Finn was fired up and set about closing the gap.
He made it up to fourth place just before the one hour mark and was lucky to avoid being collected by a spinning LMP1 Audi and GT1 Aston Martin who had made contact with each other. In fact, his car was touched by the Audi but wasn't damaged.
Jaime Melo took the wheel one hour and twenty minutes into the race and pushed hard to try and made up lost time and track positions, securing the fastest GT2 lap of the race. Good strategy determined that no last minute fuel stops were required, unlike some of Risi's competitors', and Melo drove the car through to the checkered flag and third place.
Salo said afterwards: "It's great to get the podium today; we were the quickest car a lot of the time, and got the fastest lap to prove it. It's a shame about the puncture in the beginning because we lost everything there. We might have finished second otherwise. I had a spin after that incident because I was pushing so hard, trying to make up the time."
Melo was equally pleased to achieve the result, despite the difficult track conditions today on the hot, slick track. "The second half of the race was better for us as the car seemed to be more balanced and we could lap quicker than before. We thought we might be finished in fourth place but I tried really hard to push for the podium and fortunately we got it."
The #61 car was the victim of several clashes with competitors, in both Patrick Friesacher's and Harrison Brix's stints at the wheel. Fortunately none of the damage was too great and the duo was able to keep going through to the finish. Sixth place was a good reward for their fight against adversity.
Patrick Friesacher said: "The car was very good and consistent and we did some quick times. In the beginning we lost a lot of time when we were pushed onto the grass and then again when another car clashed with Harrison so we lost three or four laps there. We could have been in the top four which is frustrating but that's racing and we look forward to the next one now."
The 90oF temperatures caused Harrison Brix some discomfort during his stint -- the mixture of hot cockpit temperatures and cold water in his drinks bottle causing him to feel nauseous. Once refreshed after the race, he was able to reflect on what had taken place during his first event at Lime Rock Park. "It's difficult to come to a track where you have never raced before and especially when it's new to a lot of people. Sometimes you get caught out at just the wrong moment and sometimes not. At one stage in the race it looked as though we might finish in front of Mika and Jaime, and then it all happened to us. It's just one of those things."