RISI FIGHT THROUGH TO PODIUM FINISH Pierre Kaffer and Jaime Melo put on a great display of driving through traffic on the hot and demanding streets of Long Beach today, bringing their Risi Competizione Ferrari F430 GT through from the back of...
RISI FIGHT THROUGH TO PODIUM FINISH
Pierre Kaffer and Jaime Melo put on a great display of driving through traffic on the hot and demanding streets of Long Beach today, bringing their Risi Competizione Ferrari F430 GT through from the back of the grid to finish second in the GT2 class, with Melo recording the fastest lap of the race along the way. The result moves both drivers and team up into second place in the 2009 American Le Mans Series GT2 Championship standings.
In just 100 minutes of racing, and with only one yellow caution period (just five minutes before the end of the race), there just wasn't enough time available to allow the Risi Competizione driver pairing to make an attack on the class lead which was held from just before half distance through to the checkered flag by the #45 Flying Lizard Porsche.
Thirty-two-year-old Kaffer, who was making his Long Beach debut, had been forced to take the start from the back of the grid, despite Jaime Melo having convincingly clinched the GT2 pole position yesterday. In post-qualifying technical inspection, the Risi car was deemed to be sitting half a millimetre too low and the penalty was cancellation of its pole sitting time.
Kaffer drove with commendable sense and determinedly picked off his competitors one by one, moving from 11th in class to 6th in the first 15 minutes of the race. He continued to make the same steady progress until the end of his stint and was up to 3rd by the 50 minute, mid-race mark. When the AdShip-supported Ferrari made its only stop of the race in the 68th minute of the race, Melo was running in 2nd -- a position he held through to the end. The GT2 winner and the Risi Ferrari both finished a lap ahead of the 3rd, 4th and 5th placed runners.
Jaime Melo battled with understeer throughout his stint, but was full of praise for his new-for-2009 team mate. "Pierre did a really great job, really great, getting us into a podium place. The car had more understeer compared with practice, but I could still do good lap times so it shows that we have a great car. It could have been better but that's what we had. Anyway, next time we will do it [finish at the front]."
Pierre Kaffer said "It wasn't such an easy race for us, starting from the back. It was disappointing to have had that happen as we could have won. But, it could have been much worse like St Pete. The hardest cars to overtake were the Vici Porsche and the BMWs as they (the BMWs) were always faster on the straight than us. Following all those cars very closely also meant that it was very, very hot for me in the car but it was okay in the end. Second is second."
The next race will be the Larry H Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix at Miller Motorsports Park, Salt Lake City, Utah on Sunday, May 17, 2009. The green flag is scheduled for 2:15 pm MT and will be broadcast on SPEED, same day tape delayed beginning at 10:00 pm EST. Outside the USA, Motors TV will broadcast live coverage on Sunday, May 17 beginning at 7:00 pm CET (Central European Time). Live Timing & Scoring and American Le Mans Radio can be found at the new americanlemans.com.