St. Pete: Risi Competizione preview

RISI READY TO LIGHT UP THE STREETS Houston, Tx, Tuesday March 31, 2009. Season-opening GT2 winners, Risi Competizione, head for St. Petersburg, Florida this week ready for Saturday's second leg of the 2009 American Le Mans Series. After a ...

RISI READY TO LIGHT UP THE STREETS

Houston, Tx, Tuesday March 31, 2009. Season-opening GT2 winners, Risi Competizione, head for St. Petersburg, Florida this week ready for Saturday's second leg of the 2009 American Le Mans Series.

After a dominant display of driving, reliability and masterful strategy at the Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 21, to the delight of new team sponsor, AdShip (www.AdShip.com), the team knows that a second consecutive GT2 class victory will be all the harder to obtain on the 1.8 mile, 14-turn temporary street course. It might be a smaller field, and a 1 hour 55 minute race instead of once round the clock, but the challenges remain mighty.

Jaime Melo was a class winner at the inaugural street race two years ago, one of eight victories from the 12-race 2007 series, but he returns to St Pete with a new team mate who has never raced at this track and formidable opposition from competitors such as Flying Lizard Motorsport and the new BMWs from the Rahal Letterman team. With only one Risi Competizione entry entered, it is all or nothing for the Houston-based Ferrari team.

Both Melo and his German team mate, Pierre Kaffer, are however great fans of street circuits, as Melo explains. "I like street circuits and especially St Pete; it's fast but at the same time very technical. We didn't have such a good race last year due to electrical problems, but I hope we can win again.

"The schedule is very tight and there is not much track time, so strategy will be important -- something that's taken care of very well by our engineers Rick Mayer and Don Shaver. The track is quite difficult to set up the car for as there's a long straight and hard braking and a few very slippery corners, but an advantage is that there are not so many LMP cars here this time. I just hope they will be patient about passing us in the corners."

Thirty-two-year-old Swiss resident Kaffer is looking forward to the next two rounds, both street tracks. "For me it sounds as though St Pete is like Monaco or Macau and I like this kind of course very much. What is more scary is the thought of not having much time to familiarise myself with the race track; I think Jaime has to do most of the work this weekend. At Sebring Mika and I did it...now it's Jaime's turn! I think it's important that I drive the track first then speak about it afterwards once I've got a picture of it in my head."

-credit: rc

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Series ALMS
Drivers Jaime Melo , Pierre Kaffer
Teams Risi Competizione