RISI COMPETIZIONE F430GT BUMPED OFF COURSE AT MID-OHIO WHILE THIRD IN CLASS. MELO PUSHES ON TO FINISH SIXTH. Lexington, Ohio - Racing luck entered the equation at Mid-Ohio when an apparent collision put the Risi Competizione Number 62 F430GT off...
RISI COMPETIZIONE F430GT BUMPED OFF COURSE AT MID-OHIO WHILE THIRD IN CLASS. MELO PUSHES ON TO FINISH SIXTH.
Lexington, Ohio - Racing luck entered the equation at Mid-Ohio when an apparent collision put the Risi Competizione Number 62 F430GT off the road and into the gravel trap barely ten minutes from the finish of the race. At the time of the incident, the red Ferrari was in third position in the GT2 class. With Melo at the wheel, the car finished 6th in class. It was an undeserving end to a day in which the team had repeatedly battled back against the odds.
The day started with much promise. During the soggy morning warm-up, young Brazilian ace Jaime Melo was fastest overall in Risi Competizione's No. 62 Ferrari F430GT posting the quickest lap (1:46.292) during the 25-minute session, followed by Penske Racing's No. 7 Porsche RS Spyder of Timo Bernhard, who turned a 1:47.248.
Mika Salo started the race for Risi Competizione from the third position he earned during qualifying. A bare minute into the race, Salo was back after being bumped from behind; a very quick pit stop by the Risi Competizione team followed and Salo was back on course. With all four tires changed but no fuel taken on Salo started to work his way back through the traffic on the Mid-0hio course moving into striking range of the leaders at 6th position. An hour and seventeen minutes into the race-approximately half- way-Salo pitted for tires, fuel and with a driver change to Jaime Melo, the car charged out onto the track to continue making up for the time lost during the early race incident.
At the 2 hours and 33 minutes mark, Melo had driven the F430GT Ferrari into third position-a podium slot-and was gaining on the class leaders. Then, disaster struck: another on-course incident. TV coverage on CBS showed one of the prototypes edging Melo off the track and into the gravel trap. Luckily, the car's progress was only slowed as no damage appeared to have been sustained. Nothing if not determined, the car was soon on the track again and running, with Melo driving it home to a 6th place finish.
"This is not what we expected to happen," said Team Engineer Rick Mayer. "It's extraordinarily bad luck after both drivers worked so hard to get us back up to a podium finish. Our car has been running beautifully as you can see by the lap times and the lap times during the morning warm-up in the wet. The Michelins are doing a great job and we're due to start catching some breaks. The main part of the season is yet to come and we have much to look forward to. We congratulate our competitors at Panoz and Porsche on their win but we believe our time will come. We will see everyone at Lime Rock in July and look forward to a good race meeting there."
Team Managing Director Giuseppe Risi commented that: "Everything that we have control over is performing precisely as planned. I'm pleased with the performance of our car, team, and drivers. As for racing luck-well, it tends to even out over the course of a season. Three-quarters of the season remains, we have a good position in the IMSA Cup points and every reason to be optimistic."