RISI COMPETIZIONE FERRARI F430GT TAKES THE POLE AT GRAND PRIX OF PORTLAND JAIME MELO TURNS IN HIS SECOND CONSECUTIVE POLE PERFORMANCE Portland, Oregon - This afternoon Jaime Melo drove the red Risi Competizione Ferrari F430GT to the pole ...
RISI COMPETIZIONE FERRARI F430GT TAKES THE POLE AT GRAND PRIX OF PORTLAND
JAIME MELO TURNS IN HIS SECOND CONSECUTIVE POLE PERFORMANCE
Portland, Oregon - This afternoon Jaime Melo drove the red Risi Competizione Ferrari F430GT to the pole position in the ALMS GT2 Class for the Grand Prix of Portland with a lap of 1:12.769. Second fastest time was claimed Joerg Bergmeister (Porsche 911 GT3 RSR) with a lap of 1:13.235, followed by Mike Rockenfeller (Porsche 911 GT3 RSR) at 1:13.312. It was the second consecutive series pole position for Melo, who also took pole at the Utah Grand Prix ALMS race last weekend, a race the Houston-based team won, and which was their first ALMS race win of the 2006 season.
Qualifying took place today with the track temperature at 135 degrees, making it literally one of the hottest tests of the year. "The Michelin tires are doing a great job and the Ferrari F430GT is running well. This is a difficult track for all competitors and the competition will be difficult in the race. But we're glad to have the pole and will look forward to the challenge we face tomorrow," said Team Manager David Sims today.
However, the action kicked off at Portland yesterday (Thursday) and it was back to business for the Risi Competizione American Le Mans Series race team and their F430GT immediately got the ball rolling by putting up the fastest GT2 time in the first practice session with a 1.12.624 lap at the Portland International Raceway track. Second fastest was the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR shared by Bergemeister/Petersen/Long while third quickest was the BMW E46 M3 of Auberland/Hand. The fastest race lap record here was in fact set in July, 2005 by Bergmeister at the wheel of a Porsche 911 GT3 RSR with a 1:13.336; while Melo's opening practice session lap was also faster than the qualifying lap record set last year by Romain Dumas in Porsche at 1.12.653.
This morning, at 10:38AM with Risi Competizione driver Mika Salo now behind the wheel, the F430GT was again fastest in class, this time with a 1:12.783 lap. Second in the GT2 class was the BMW E46 M3 of Bill Auberlen at 1:12.865 followed by Joerg Bergmeister at 1:12.921. The track conditions were challenging each team to find the optimum setup to allow the maximum amount of power to be transferred from car to track. The morning session served to set the team up nicely for their tilt for pole in the qualifying session.
Just one week ago, the team won its first ALMS race of the 2006 season at the inaugural Utah Grand Prix held at the Miller Motorsports Park outside Salt Lake City, Utah, and in doing so the become the fifth different team to win in the GT2 Class after five races this season. "We had a good run last week," said Team Managing Director Giuseppe Risi, "but that was last week. I can assure you that Porsche and Panoz will be extra-competitive this week at Portland. Our team will need to rise to the challenge in the most competitive class in ALMS."
The 1.944 mile 12 turn track at Portland International Raceway presents a totally different set of challenges from the 4.5 mile, 24 turn track at Miller Motorsports Park. "This is a power track," said Risi Competizione Team Engineer Rick Meyer. "It has two long straights and we expect the Porsches to do well here. This is a low-grip trick and the challenge is to get the power down on the track. Drivers have to be careful and easy on the throttle as this track can induce oversteer. That also means softer compound Michelin tires."
Risi Competizione's two drivers, Jaime Melo and Mika Salo, set a very competitive pace from opening practice yesterday to qualifying this afternoon. Melo has never raced at Portland before while Salo has some experience as he raced here last year, driving the Maserati Reparto Corse MC12.