LONG DAY IN LONG BEACH FOR RISI COMPETIZIONE In Long Beach today Risi Competizione looked to be racing to a certain podium finish for the ...
LONG DAY IN LONG BEACH FOR RISI COMPETIZIONE
In Long Beach today Risi Competizione looked to be racing to a certain podium finish for the #62 car, and a fourth place for #61, but Lady Luck once again declined to shine down upon the team.
A starter motor problem at Melo and Salo's only pit stop caused a delay which saw the GT2 Champions relegated towards the back of the field, finishing 9th in class. Brix and Friesacher, who were starting only their second American Le Mans Series race, caught an unlucky break in the timing of their pit stop in relation to the middle caution period and lost a lap to the leading GT2 pack. The fact that they both drove at a consistent and competitive pace throughout the race allowed them to claim 5th place and further valuable points for Risi in the Teams' Championship.
Jaime Melo took the start in his Rosso Red Ferrari 430 GT and battled nose-to-tail with the two Flying Lizard Motorsport Porsches for the first 45 of the 68 lap race. The Brazilian had been running almost identical lap times with his closest competitors, sometimes down to a hundredth of a second, and there was all to play for as he came into the pits for his only stop. However, when Mika Salo went to start the car, the starter motor failed to function and the minutes agonizingly ticked by while the problem was resolved. A communications misunderstanding saw Salo having the rear deck lid of his car fitted just outside his pit box which resulted in a stop-go penalty.
Californian Harrison Brix was philosophical about the outcome of the race, especially as regards the loss of track position. "It's unfortunate, but that's sort of how it works with street tracks; it's kind of luck of the draw. If you are in the right place at the right time, you sometimes find yourself a lap ahead, like happened here last year. It just wasn't our turn this time. I'm happy that two races in a row both cars finished and we've picked up some points again. At the same time, if we look at our potential, we should have been in fourth place now for two races in a row. We'll figure it out and be better next time."
Patrick Friesacher added, "Our lap times were really good but we went a lap down by just one car which was very unlucky and that changed the look of our race."
Jaime Melo was in a reflective mood once the initial feelings of disappointment had faded slightly. "If you consider that last year we won eight races and this year we can't yet finish in the top five, it's hard to not feel disappointed. It wasn't easy to keep the pace during my stint as we had big understeer and then oversteer so it was difficult to manage the situation. I thought that our championship could start here but in the end it will have to wait until the next round. But a race finishes at the last lap and a championship finishes at the last race so it is not over yet; we have to keep positive and keep fighting.
Mika Salo conceded that events had very much gone against plan. "Obviously we had a bad pit stop because the car didn't start and when I got out the handling felt really strange -- even in the pit lane. I thought we had a wheel loose or something but it turns out that, while Jaime had been overtaking a slower GT2 car earlier in the race, there had been some contact and the left rear toe link was bent. It was difficult to drive but the race had gone from us already and we were two laps down.