RISI ROLLING ON TO CALIFORNIA'S LONG BEACH Houston, Texas, April 13, 2010. Fresh from its sixth consecutive endurance GT victory, secured at the opening round of the 2010 American Le Mans Series, the 12 Hours of Sebring, Risi Competizione...
RISI ROLLING ON TO CALIFORNIA'S LONG BEACH
Houston, Texas, April 13, 2010. Fresh from its sixth consecutive endurance GT victory, secured at the opening round of the 2010 American Le Mans Series, the 12 Hours of Sebring, Risi Competizione now head west for one of the shorter tracks within the series - the scenic temporary street course of Long Beach, California.
Often compared to the Formula One Grand Prix in Monaco, the 1.96 mile, 11-turn circuit is as challenging as any other, but Risi knows what it takes to succeed here. Last season's second place after a fight through from the back of the grid was a good reward for some accomplished racing, but it's 2007's GT victory that Jaime Melo and Gianmaria Bruni will be looking to replicate on Saturday afternoon.
Much of the two hours of Friday morning practice, starting at the uncivilized time of 7:15am, will be given over to the team's Italian newcomer, Bruni, to acclimatize himself with the track. Green and dirty track conditions plus low temperatures at that time of day are, however, unlikely to yield much in terms of set up data and, with an entry of 36 cars -- some untried and untested at Long Beach -- the practice sessions are likely to be subject to multiple yellow or red flag interruptions. The schedule is challenging for drivers and teams alike.
Risi Competizione's Technical Director, Rick Mayer, explains what is required in terms of set up: "The car needs platform support for the change of direction only in the Fountain Turn and the ability to brake into the 90-degree corners. It's a new track for Gimmi, but not a hard one, and he learns tracks quickly... at least, that's what he says! There's not much track time here and the race is later in the day than the bulk of the practice time, which may leave some tire strategy/longevity questions unanswered. This track, like most temporary ones, "rubbers in" and should gain grip as the weekend progresses, but flexibility and speed in strategic decisions will be vital."
The remaining 30 minutes' practice on Friday, just prior to qualifying, will allow Jaime Melo an opportunity place the red Ferrari F430 GT at the front of the 12-strong GT grid -- the largest of the four categories competing in the 100 minute race on Saturday, April 17. With track time so limited, knowledge and confidence is key and Melo brings both in spades.
Jaime Melo: "Long Beach is bumpy, although nothing like as bad as Sebring, so the most important thing is to have a stable car over the bumps. Our car is really good between the walls and we have a good base set up so we just have to work on improving what we had last year.
"Like most of the GT field, I'm sure we will only plan to stop once and we have to prepare for a very quick stop. I'm not worried about this because our Risi guys are very quick on these; we cannot lose any time in the pits as the race could be won or lost there as everyone will pit at the same time under a yellow flag. We will need to push from the first to the last minute as Porsche will be strong again, as well as the BMWs and Corvettes, but I think we will be really competitive."
Gianmaria Bruni: "I've had a good look at the track on YouTube and it looks very nice. I like street circuits like this but it will be challenging to get there and up to speed as quickly as possible. The track will be cold and very dirty on Friday and very different between practice and the race but that's part of the experience and the job we have to do. We have to work together to get a good balance for the Ferrari and for Jaime to be as fast as possible to put the car in the front of the GT field."
The Tequila Patron American Le Mans Series at Long Beach is the second round of the 2010 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron. The race, set at the historic Long Beach street circuit, California, is scheduled for 4:40 p.m. PT on Saturday, April 17 with coverage on SPEED set for 8 to 10 p.m. ET. Live radio coverage will be available on American Le Mans Radio presented by Porsche -- a production of Radio Show Limited -- as well as Sirius and XM.