RESOURCEFUL RISI LOOKING TO BOUNCE BACK IN UTAH Still chasing their first victory of 2008, Risi Competizione heads to Salt Lake City for the Utah Grand Prix at Miller Motorsports Park with both determination and optimism. Currently third in...
RESOURCEFUL RISI LOOKING TO BOUNCE BACK IN UTAH
Still chasing their first victory of 2008, Risi Competizione heads to Salt Lake City for the Utah Grand Prix at Miller Motorsports Park with both determination and optimism.
Currently third in the American Le Mans Series GT2 Team Championship, Risi is looking to revive its bid for title success with a solid finish from either of its two Ferrari 430 GT cars. Those pushing hardest will be last year's Drivers Champions, Jaime Melo and Mika Salo, who are looking to re-start their season after a three-race run of bad luck and misfortune. With two ALMS races now under their belt, and both drivers becoming increasingly comfortable in their new working environment, Harrison Brix and Patrick Friesacher will also be looking for an improvement in their final race result.
In the two years that the race has been held at Miller Motorsports Park -- considered by many to be the finest facility in North America -- Risi Competizione has done well, winning (GT2) in 2006 and last year placing itself in a commanding position for a repeat victory before an axle failure one hour before the checkered flag. The only mechanical failure suffered by the team throughout the 2007 season, it ended a five-race winning streak for Melo and Salo.
The 3.048 mile, 15-turn circuit configuration is new for 2008 and, by taking out the center section, the track now becomes primarily a left-turn course. A combination of medium speed and long, moderately fast corners favor a stiffer set up and also suit the mid-engine cars such as the Ferrari as its weight distribution makes it more consistent throughout the corners. Risi's engineers are confident they will achieve a well balanced car early in the running, and are secure in the knowledge that the Michelin tires used by the team work extremely well in Utah.
One unknown factor will be the weather conditions, as they fluctuate from very hot to much cooler to rain at this time of year. The race start this year is at 1:05 pm as opposed to 5:05pm last year so common sense would indicate that temperatures could indeed be much hotter than in the last two years.
Mika Salo says of the facility: "It's a nice track and we've been there a couple of times already with a good result. The surface isn't very abrasive but it's dirty because of the blowing sand which also changes the grip. During the race it will get sandy off line so, although the track may be wide, the racing line won't be. If it's very, very hot it will be a hard race for the cars and the drivers but we have a solution for cooling us now which means we should be okay."
Patrick Friesacher added: "I am looking forward to going to Salt Lake City this year as I have been told it's one of the premier new venues in the USA. It's not the same configuration as last year, which evens things up between someone who hasn't been there and people who have driven there before. Harrison has driven been there so that will be a big help in getting to know the track, and the Ferrari was of course quick last year so I am excited about being there."