St. Pete: Risi Competizione preview

RISI READY TO REGAIN GROUND Houston,Tx-based racing team, Risi Competizione, today sets out its store in St. Petersburg, Florida ready for Saturday's second leg of the 2008 American Le Mans Series; the two-car Ferrari team has much ...

RISI READY TO REGAIN GROUND

Houston,Tx-based racing team, Risi Competizione, today sets out its store in St. Petersburg, Florida ready for Saturday's second leg of the 2008 American Le Mans Series; the two-car Ferrari team has much to prove.

Defending GT2 Champions, Jaime Melo and Mika Salo, were class winners at the inaugural street race twelve months ago, one of eight victories from the 12-race 2007 series which earned them numerous accolades and awards. Going into the 2008 season-opener at Sebring, Florida three weeks ago, Risi Competizione's lead car -- the nr. 62 Ferrari F430 GT of Melo, Salo and endurance partner, Gianmaria Bruni of Italy -- was viewed as hot favourite for victory in the 12-hour classic, but it wasn't to be.

Consistently fastest in practice, qualifying and the first half of the race, a rare error by Melo brought the car's bid for glory to a premature end. A well-judged and solid performance by the driving crew of car nr. 61 (Krohn Racing's Tracy Krohn, Nic Jonsson and Eric van de Poele) nevertheless brought reward in the form of a podium finish and valuable points for the Championship.

At St Petersburg, Melo and Salo will be joined by newcomers to the team, Harrison Brix of San Jose, Ca., and Austrian Patrick Friesacher, a former Formula One driver. The 27-year-old team mates in car nr.61 acknowledge that their first race with the team, in a new car and on a street course, will be challenging but they will be using all of the considerable experience and guidance that their Brazilian and Finnish team mates can offer.

Both are great fans of street circuits, as Melo now explains. "I like street circuits and especially St Petes; it's fast but at the same time very technical. I have a good feeling about it from last year because we won the race and we are looking forward to it this year. We have worked hard on developing the car over the winter and it is definitely a little bit better and for sure it's going to be a good challenge. I hope we can win again although the schedule is very tight and there is not much track time. The race is shorter than usual too, so strategy will be important.

"The atmosphere, being close to the sea front with all the boats, is very good and that's why I like it. It's different to normal tracks. You are much closer to the people and that creates a different feel. That helps us to relax a bit more and things come easier that way."

Ex-Ferrari F1 star, Salo, agrees with his team mate: "All the street circuits are nice, but St Petersburg is quite special. It's quite fast and with very tight corners as well. It's a very tricky track and last year there were a lot of accidents; I expect that to happen again this year. The track changed a lot during the week and it was a lot grippier towards the end of the week. I like the circuit and we had a good result there, winning GT2. We need to get back to winning.

"It's difficult to set up the car there as there's a long straight and hard braking and a few very slippery corners. From the race point of view it's quite difficult also as the LMP cars are a lot faster in a straight line and they have to be patient to wait to get by us on the straight as there's no passing in the corners.

The Official Sponsors of Risi Competizione, 2006 and 2007 ALMS GT2 Team Champions, are Boost/Motorola, Michelin, Freescale, Ferrari of Silicon Valley, Ferrari Financial Services, Boardwalk Autogroup, Delphi and Ferrari of Houston.

The Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg presented by XM Satellite Radio is scheduled for 1:25 p.m. ET on Saturday, April 5 from the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. The race will be broadcast on ABC from 1:30-3:30 p.m. ET on April 5. American Le Mans Radio coverage will be available on XM Satellite Radio Channel 144 from 5 to 8 p.m. ET on Sunday, April 6. Live American Le Mans Radio coverage will be available at americanlemans.com, which also will feature IMSA's Live Timing & Scoring.

-credit: www.risicompetizione.com

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