The tenth running of the prestigious Petit Le Mans event was as exciting, tense and full of action as any of the previous races have been here at Road Atlanta. Today wasn't, however, a day to celebrate for Ferrari as only one F430 GT finished the...
The tenth running of the prestigious Petit Le Mans event was as exciting, tense and full of action as any of the previous races have been here at Road Atlanta. Today wasn't, however, a day to celebrate for Ferrari as only one F430 GT finished the 1000 mile race.
Risi Competizione's Jaime Melo and Mika Salo's sixth place in the GT2 class was enough to retain the lead held by the drivers and the team in the Championship points tables, but it wasn't enough to clinch them. That battle will now take place at Laguna Seca in two weeks time.
Despite holding a strong lead in the first four hours of the race, the #62 car's fight for victory was halted by an electrical problem concerning the rear brake lights. It took three visits to the pits to completely resolve the issue -- traced eventually to a break in the power supply -- but the loss of time was too much to make up, despite Melo and Salo pushing hard all the way to the checkered flag.
Nine full course caution periods punctuated the 9 hour, 18 minute and 58 second long race and the Krohn green car was involved in three of those. An innocent victim of contact with other cars, and a rear left brake concern were contributing factors to those delays but, in the end, it was an engine oil pump failure that was to end the day for the crew on the #61 Risi Ferrari. All three drivers turned in consistently quick lap times, with Turner being one of the quickest GT cars on the track during his final stint in the car.
Team Principal and Owner, Giuseppe Risi, was naturally disappointed but philosophical about the result. "It wasn't a good day for Ferrari. It seems the gremlins were after us. What was amazing today was that, with the exception of one, all the Porsches finished and the Ferraris all had problems of different kinds. The shame with the #62 car was the lights which cost us 21 laps. We are still very close in the Championship and we need a minimum of 4th place at Laguna to secure the Drivers', Manufacturers', and Teams' titles so we will have to keep our noses clean."
Jaime Melo: "I was very careful at the beginning of the race, keeping out of trouble, but I got blocked by the #21 car a couple of times. They closed the door twice on me and then they just braked a little too early and I braked too hard, locked up the rear wheels and went off. After that Mika got in and we had the brake light problem which took quite a long time to fix. It's a shame; we are still 22 points in front so with one more race to go now we have to work hard and go on to Laguna to win the race."
Johnny Mowlem: "From my point of view I'm gutted for the whole team and the boys to lose the race on something as trivial as brake lights. I did the best I could do for the team today. Having bruised my wrist slightly this morning, which meant I didn't drive in the race, it meant I could go and spot for them in Turn 3 to try and warn them when Prototypes were coming. They both did a great job and, without the lights issue, I'm sure they would have won."
Mika Salo: "The car was very good in the warm up then Johnny had a bit of a moment [spinning off on oil from #26]. The team did a fantastic job to get the car fixed, but it affected the handling of the car during the race. We had a lot of understeer and the steering was not straight -- it wasn't the same car we had before. We raced hard but it was very disappointing in the end. On to Laguna now and we had a very fast car there last year, and it's a track I know, so it will be nice to go and clinch the Championship there."
Nic Jonsson: "Obviously, it was a very tough day. We started out pretty good, moving up from 10th to 5th. Then we had contact at Turn One unfortunately. We spun out and everything started going downhill from there. Tracy had an off, we broke a brake duct and that haunted us for much of the day. We were basically dragging a left-hand brake and couldn't really go fast enough on the straightaway and started losing time there. We decided to settle in, and tried to take sixth place finish. We were running, I think, 10 laps ahead of seventh place and six laps behind fifth place so it was up to us to settle in there but unfortunately we had an engine issue at the end there. It was a tough day for our car, for the Risi Competizione team altogether, and for Ferrari. We hope to go to Laguna and claim a good result there."
Darren Turner: "My last stint was very good. It was the first time I ran on new medium tires all around. Obviously, the track was getting better as the temperatures dropped, so I really enjoyed driving the car. I got caught up a few times with prototypes but otherwise tried to stay happily in the groove and knocking the laps out at the end of the race. Unfortunately the oil pressure alarm then came on. We came back into the pits and the guys obviously tried their best to get the car back out there but it's not something they can fix quickly. They retired the car, which was a great shame, but I've really enjoyed the race."
Tracy W Krohn: "Scavenger pump failure took us out of the competition at the end. Darren did a great job. As the track cooled, it got much faster and showed he knew what he was doing. I ran some 22's very consistently. Overall not one of our stellar days, but there's one more race in this season and then we'll be back next year."
-credit: risi competizione