PERSEVERENCE PAYING OFF FOR RISI FERRARI PORTLAND (July 19, 2006) - If there ever has been a hard-earned victory in the American Le Mans Series, it came from Risi Competizione last weekend. After coming up agonizingly short in...
PERSEVERENCE PAYING OFF FOR RISI FERRARI
PORTLAND (July 19, 2006) - If there ever has been a hard-earned victory in the American Le Mans Series, it came from Risi Competizione last weekend. After coming up agonizingly short in the first four rounds of 2006, the Risi Ferrari F430GT finally crossed the finish line first in GT2 at the Utah Grand Prix.
Mika Salo and Jamie Melo did so in the most dramatic of ways, coming from the back of the grid for their first career Series victory. It also marked the first win for Risi and Ferrari in the Series since Lime Rock Park in 2004 and gave the ultra-competitive GT2 class its fifth winning team in as many races this year. Risi can become the first repeat winner in class with a victory Saturday in the Portland Grand Prix presented by Les Schwab.
"We have had our share of racing luck this season and we had a virtually flawless race," team managing director Giuseppe Risi said. "The win is all the more sweet because everyone on the circuit, everyone on our team and all of our fans know how close we have been to breaking through this year."
Risi's Ferrari has led all but one race so far this season; actually the car has dominated at times leading the GT2 pack for the majority of the races at Sebring, Houston and finally Utah. But prior to last weekend something always seemed to come up and bite the Houston-based team.
It finally came together at Miller Motorsports Park, despite changing flat- spotted tires after Saturday's warm-up session although Melo qualified on the pole. Risi said the advantages of taking on fresh rubber and starting in the back far outweighed the disadvantages of keeping the tires and remaining on pole position. Melo and Salo made him look like a very smart man.
"I just tried to be safe in the first three or four laps. After that, I just pushed to get the lead," said Melo, who moved ahead after just 42 minutes. "The car was working very well, and the tires were good too. I overtook the leader just trying to keep the pace and conserving the tires."
"Things will happen. Sometimes you wonder when things like that are going to end," team manager David Sims said. "But it looked on paper like (Miller Motorsports Park) would favor drivers who have been successful at European circuits. It also suited our car very well. The only things we worried about the heat and 24 turns.
"Portland is a lot different," he added. "It's not as long but it has fast corners that can suit our car. We're definitely looking forward to it."
The Portland Grand Prix presented by Les Schwab, the sixth race of the 2006 American Le Mans Series season, is scheduled for 6 p.m. PDT on Saturday, July 22. CBS Sports will broadcast the race from 3 to 5 p.m. EDT on Sunday, July 23. Qualifying is set for 3:35 p.m. PDT on Friday, July 21. American Le Mans Radio will have live coverage at americanlemans.com, which also will feature IMSA Live Timing & Scoring.