LIME ROCK FAILS TO FAVOR RISI COMPETIZIONE Saturday, July 24, 2010. Coming into this weekend's race at Lime Rock Park, hopes within the Risi Competizione team for another GT success were running high following round four's win in Utah. Those...
LIME ROCK FAILS TO FAVOR RISI COMPETIZIONE
Saturday, July 24, 2010. Coming into this weekend's race at Lime Rock Park, hopes within the Risi Competizione team for another GT success were running high following round four's win in Utah. Those hopes were, however, dashed in the cruellest fashion when the #62 Ferrari F430 GTC in the hands of Jaime Melo was pushed off track by another competitor just 24 minutes into the race.
The damage to the right rear of the car after heavy contact with the barriers was too severe for it to continue running, and the Ferrari was retired. The outcome was the worst possible for Melo and Bruni who not only saw their GT Drivers' championship lead slip away, but also -- crucially -- the opportunity to score any further points today.
The team's second car, this weekend in the hands of Pierre Kaffer and Mika Salo, finished fourth in class behind the Flying Lizard Porsche and the two BMWs in a race full of incidents and attrition. After electing to continue running during the first and second of the three caution periods, the timing of the third full course yellow unfortunately didn't favor the strategy of the #61 car and it dropped from the class lead to fourth after its pit stop. Despite some strong and steady stints by both Salo and Kaffer, the gap from third to fourth was just too great a distance to make up in the time available.
After heavy rain during the two practice sessions and qualifying yesterday, today's race took place in dry, hot and humid conditions -- although a sprinkling of rain in the last 20 minutes threatened, but ultimately failed, to shake things up. The lack of running in the dry meant that the chance to find a good race set up was limited and the #61 car's handling suffered throughout the 2 hour 45 minute event.
Mika Salo drove the middle of the three stints, and said afterwards, "It was really hot in the car. You don't feel it so much when you are driving, but when you stop it really hits you. Our car was suffering from bad understeer; we needed some more laps in the dry to get the set up right, and this was my first race in the Ferrari since last year so I probably needed some more laps also but it was good to be backing racing here again."
Pierre Kaffer was pleased to have got to the end of the race unscathed. "We're obviously a bit disappointed that we didn't get a podium finish, but we managed to get some good points today for Ferrari and for Risi Competizione so that was our main target. It was pretty fierce on the track at times, so I think we should consider ourselves lucky to have got to the end of the race without any damage to our car."
A bitterly disappointed Jaime Melo said afterward his on-track incident: "After the race went green again [following the first full course caution period], I overtook the #3 Corvette in Turn one and he just pushed me off the track. We were running second behind the Porsche and had a very good chance for this race. I can't explain how disappointed I am."
Gianmaria Bruni's experience of Lime Rock has been brief, and none too memorable. After Friday's rain, he at last had an opportunity to run in the dry this morning in a brief, late-scheduled warm up session. This is what he had to say before the race:
"It was a shame we lost out on a good position on the grid because of traffic and the red flag during qualifying. Today (Saturday) is dry for the first time and I had about 10 laps in the car so I think we will be okay. We are taking a bit of a gamble on set up because we are changing the car after warm up and we won't know until the race how it will be but at least the track will improve as some rubber goes down during the race."
Risi Competizione is a Houston-based Ferrari racing team lead by Managing Director Giuseppe Risi. Official team sponsors include Krohn Racing, Ferrari of Houston, Boardwalk Auto Group, Pennzoil Ultra, Motorola, AdShip and QT Technologies.
The next round of the 2010 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron will be the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge on Saturday, August 7.