Road Atlanta: Risi Competizione race report

RISI COMPETIZIONE WINS PETIT LE MANS 1st and 4th place finishes in record-breaking race The red ...

1st and 4th place finishes in record-breaking race

The red #62 Ferrari 430 GT of Jaime Melo and Mika Salo staged one of the most remarkable fight backs in the history of Petit Le Mans to take victory today in a tightly contested GT2 battle.

In an excellent result for Ferrari, Nic Jonsson, Tracy Krohn and Eric van de Poele brought their #61 Krohn Racing Risi Ferrari home in 4th place. Four of the top five places in GT2 were filled by Ferraris.

Risi's Brilliant Brazilian was undoubtedly the star of this particular show. Melo led the first hour of the race after starting from pole position, but an early mechanical problem necessitated two additional pit stops and caused the car to drop back to 12th in the placings. Despite losing two laps to the leaders, Melo set about carving his way through the field and back into contention. After four and a half hours, the #62 was in 2nd place and chasing the #45 Flying Lizard Porsche for the lead.

He was of course backed up superbly by his team mate, Mika Salo, who not only maintained the position but also kept the opposition at bay despite being under intense pressure throughout. The Flying Finn's reputation as the best closer in the business was fully justified today as he battled through accidents, darkness and the heat of competition to take the checkered flag.

Car #61 had a great run through to 4th place, despite being forced to change a punctured tire in the pits while they were closed during the long 10th Full Course Caution period. A time/stop/go penalty was incurred but the Krohn Racing drivers' pace and performance ensured that they were still ahead of the 5th placed Ferrari of JMB Racing.

Giuseppe Risi, Team Principal: "This is a very special moment for me here at Petit Le Mans. We won the first Petit outright in a Ferrari 333 and ten years after we now win it again after having also captured the 24 Hours of Le Mans. What also makes it special is that our other car is right up there in 4th place and that there are four Ferraris in the top five. It's a very special day for Ferrari and I want to thank everybody involved for making this possible."

Jaime Melo, Driver, No. 62 Risi Ferrari 430 GT: "I'm really happy to win this race especially. When Mika got the problem we were right back and I thought that the only thing I could do was to push the maximum and don't make any mistakes and that's what I did. The team, as always, did a really great job and the Michelin tires were very consistent so we had a car that was easy to drive, comfortable and always on the pace. It's been a tough year; we won Le Mans and now Petit Le Mans so that's good for the team and for us all. It gives us more confidence for the future."

Mika Salo, Driver, No. 62 Risi Ferrari 430 GT: "I don't know why all the problems seem to happen to me! I had two problems which, at the time, we didn't know were connected. The drinks bottle wasn't working and then the throttle stuck open. We eventually found out that a really small piece from the drinks tube had broken off and got stuck between the floor and the throttle -- it's about the size of a finger nail. You can't believe the chances of something like that happening. Anyway, it's nice to win but, for me, I'm really jealous of those guys [Wolf Henzler and Jorg Bergmeister] for winning the Championship!!"

Nic Jonsson, Driver, No. 61 Risi-Krohn Ferrari 430 GT: "I'm very pleased about the 4th place finish here. We qualified quite well with sixth. For us to have a good finish here we had to stay out of trouble. Both Eric and Tracy did an awesome job today, keeping it on the track, plugging away and letting everybody else make mistakes. I have to say thanks, of course, to Tracy again, to Risi Competizione and Krohn Racing for putting together a very good program. Hopefully we can do this again next year. We've had a lot of success in this car and hopefully we can continue on."

Tracy Krohn, driver/Krohn Racing team owner, No. 61 Risi-Krohn Ferrari 430 GT: "The cool part about it is that when you come to a race like this it's all about staying out of trouble and being very consistent. But it's also about having really quality team mates and that's a big part of it. My hat's off to the Risi guys. The preparation on the car is always superb; the car is always very drivable. (Race Engineer) Mark Schomann just did a great job. It was a great team effort. Eric did an awesome job in a very tight situation with an instantaneous reaction that probably saved our skins for the race because of the wreck that happened in front of him between one of the GT Porsches and one of the P1 cars. If Eric had not make the right decision the game would have been over for us tonight. But he did and that's just experience. There's no way you can coach or teach that, you just have to know how to do it and how to react. Nic also did an awesome job driving today. Both those guys were great. I've said it a thousand times. This business is just like any other business. When you surround yourself with talented people who work hard, you get good results. Same thing continues to happen."

Eric van de Poele, driver, No. 61 Risi-Krohn Ferrari 430 GT: "It was pretty good until the end. We had absolutely no problem at the beginning of the race. I think Nic had a very good pace. We were in a very good position. Unfortunately we lost a lap by no chance with the pace car but it happens. Then Tracy went in the car. We made a couple of extra pit stops over the next few laps with the cautions. Then when I got back in I think we were in 7th and I was a little demotivated but we came back and got better and better in our position. Of course we hoped to be on the podium but I think fourth place is fantastic for the team. We've had a good result two times this year with this car. Once more Giuseppe Risi won this race and I'm very happy for him. Ten years ago he won and this year he deserved it. Of course it could have been better to be on the podium with them but I'm very happy for him and for us."

-credit: risi

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Nic Jönsson
Teams Krohn Racing , Risi Competizione