Risi race to victory at Mosport - first ALMS win of the season The promise, speed and performance demonstrated by the Risi Competizione team all week held good until the last lap of today's Grand Prix of Mosport and Jaime Melo and Mika Salo...
Risi race to victory at Mosport - first ALMS win of the season
The promise, speed and performance demonstrated by the Risi Competizione team all week held good until the last lap of today's Grand Prix of Mosport and Jaime Melo and Mika Salo took their first GT2 victory of the 2008 American Le Mans Series season.
It was Salo's 12th career win in the series, Melo's 11th, and the victory was the third in a row for the Houston-based team at the Canadian track. The result capped a race meeting which has seen the #62 car at the head of the time sheets every single time they took to the track.
Although winners of the biggest sportscar race of the year, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the climb to the top step of the ALMS podium has frustratingly proved to be a few paces too far. Today, though, Risi and its GT2 Championship drivers returned to their very best winning form.
Risi Team Principal, Giuseppe Risi, said after the race: "I am very happy. We have finally broken the run of bad luck we've been having in the American Le Mans Series this season. And what a race! I never gave up hope, even when we weren't at the head of the field, because we had the pace to win. We've been strong all week, so even when we were behind another car, having lost the lead through yellows, we were able to come back again."
Melo led the race from pole position -- a place he held on to until Risi's first pit stop which took place 55 minutes into the race under the first full caution period. He handed the wheel to team mate Salo who left the pits inches ahead of eventual second place finishers, the Farnbacher Loles Porsche, but not ahead of the #45 Flying Lizard Porsche which snatched the class lead.
It only took Salo two laps to make his move and the experienced Finn took full advantage of a prototype passing Bergmeister to make a clean move back into the lead. He held station until the next round of stops which were carried out under the second caution period, one hour and 25 minutes into the race. The team also, somewhat unusually took the opportunity to change drivers again, as Salo explains.
"Our plan was originally to change drivers only once but we went where the race went. I'd been pushing hard all stint and Jaime was fresh in the pits, so we decided to put fresh meat into the car. I don't know why it took him ten laps to get back into the lead though when it only took me one!!
"We were quickest every session we were out there and we really deserved this one," continued a smiling Salo. The car was working fine all weekend, with absolutely no problems at all so we didn't really change anything on it because it was so good from the beginning. The Michelin tires were also so consistent and were as good on lap one as they were at the end. We just had to keep it on the track and keep looking in the mirrors so we didn't hit anything.
"There weren't many incidents today, with prototypes for example, and I thought there would be a lot more. We kept waiting for something to happen to us -- like it has at all the other races -- it was all going too well!"
Melo's second stint behind the wheel produced some of the highlights of the race. After the pit stop he returned to the action third in class, but used the Ferrari's greater speed to pick up second from the #45 after some fourteen laps. From that moment on, he took set about closing the gap to the leader, edging closer and closer every lap. He regained the lead on lap 96, out-pacing the Farnbacher Loles car into Turn One and through to the checkered flag.
"I knew we had a good car, right from early this week and everything worked really well for us today. I had a great battle with both the #45 and the #87 so I'm really happy to be here on the top of the podium today. We fought for the win, and got it in a great way -- with no trouble and no accidents.
"It's an amazing result, after what's happened to us this year," added Melo. "We have shown we are very competitive at every race, but could not finish at the top. Finally we have done it. We knew we had a very balanced car and we just waited for things to come to us. I can't tell you how happy I am that it did."
-credit: risi competizione