Utah: Risi Competizione preview

RISI'S PRANCING HORSES READY TO RACE IN UTAH Houston, Texas. July 5, 2010. After the summer hiatus in the ALMS schedule for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the cream of GT racing reconvenes in Utah for the fourth round of the 2010 series. The...


Houston, Texas. July 5, 2010. After the summer hiatus in the ALMS schedule for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the cream of GT racing reconvenes in Utah for the fourth round of the 2010 series.

The fates having been against Risi Competizione in France this year, as indeed they were for very nearly all the ALMS teams which made the trip across the 'Pond', the Houston-based team is now looking forward to returning to the cut and thrust of North American competition. With five races coming in the next eight weeks the team, which is currently lying second in the Drivers GT Championship and third in the Teams' title battle, is determined to be at the top of its game in its bid to gain control of the top spots.

The tightly fought battles between the Ferrari F430 GT and the Corvettes in the first quarter of last month's French classic brought the race to life and the spectators to their feet, and the four drivers of the two red Ferraris entered by Risi in the Utah Grand Prix all have this close-cut competition in mind for next weekend's 2 hour 45 minute race.

Risi regulars, Jaime Melo and Gimmi Bruni, will be joined at Miller Motorsports Park by Italian F1 star Giancarlo Fisichella and ALMS returnee Toni Vilander of Finland. These two, together with Bruni, are all newcomers to the 3.048-mile, 15-turn circuit, situated in the Utah desert. Melo, a former Utah Grand Prix GT winner, has been quick to pass on his knowledge to his three team mates and the test session the team has carried out prior to the race will undoubtedly be advantageous.

Technical Director Rick Mayer admits that track knowledge is an important element for success at Miller Motorsport Park, with average speeds in excess of 113 mph for prototypes and 102 mph in GT cars and few landmarks around the track. "We've had a good two-day test here in Utah, getting back into the swing of ALMS racing. It was a pity that Giancarlo's schedule didn't allow him to join us, but it's been a perfect opportunity for the other three to re-familiarize or get their bearings.

"From this race onwards we will be running on E85 fuel, as all our major competitors are, and it will give us more horsepower which will help everywhere, especially the front strait here at Miller. It's a real technical challenge racing here, on several levels, due to the high altitude (4200 ft above sea level) and extreme temperatures. How the Pennzoil Ultra oil performs at high temperatures, to the smooth power delivery from V8s which Michelotto prepares, and the consistency of the Michelin tires -- it all has to come together to achieve success."

Jaime Melo: "I like this track; it's wide open and has a smooth surface so it's fast. The layout favors a stiffer set up and I think it suits mid-engine cars such as the Ferrari because our weight distribution makes the car more consistent through the corners. We know it will be hot, for sure, but we've got some new driver cooling products to try from 986 Inc. The heat is always something we need to consider but, for me personally, I don't find it as much of a problem as maybe for others."

Gianmaria Bruni: "I'd been told the track in Utah was quite difficult to learn because there are no landmarks but it only took me 10 laps to learn and I was right there. I like it a lot; it's a bit dusty but hopefully more rubber will go down as the weekend progresses. It's a smooth surface with high speed corners -- I like it! While we were testing it was 104o F, with the track at 123oF but the next day it was only 80oF so we will have to see what it will be like for the race weekend. It will be hot for sure, but we don't know how hot."

Giancarlo Fisichella: "I'm looking forward to coming to Utah to race with Risi Competizione, one of the best teams in the world, and am excited about racing for the first time in the USA with a GT car. From what I heard the circuit is fantastic and I hope to do well. I've watched some Youtube GT footage but obviously need to run the maximum time possible next week to learn it and find the limit of the circuit. I've got a very good friendship with both Gimmi Bruni and Jaime Melo as we are racing together with AF Corse in the Le Mans Series in Europe, and they have lots of experience and are very good drivers so I am sure they'll help us. We will try our best to beat the other competitors like Corvette, Porsche and BMW; with this competition it will be tough but we'll try our best."

Toni Vilander: "I'm obviously very happy to be back here in the USA having enjoyed my three ALMS races in 2006 a lot. When we first talked about the possibility of coming to this race, I had a very positive approach to the idea...it's only circumstances and lots of racing in Europe that's stopped me coming back earlier. I like the approach to racing in the USA and the atmosphere in the paddock.

"My first impressions of the Miller Motorsports Park track are very nice. I'd been told it's quite flat at points, with not so many reference points to use for braking, but I got used to it easily. Like every track, there are some specialities or tricks you need to go really quick and you need to do a few laps to find them. The race track takes a certain rhythm and flow especially in turns 1-4 which I like, and then the infield is hard braking and slower. We had a good test and have already eliminated some things in set up we won't use for the race so it's been great from that point of view."

Risi Competizione is a Houston-based Ferrari racing team lead by Managing Director Giuseppe Risi. Official team sponsors include Krohn Racing, Ferrari of Houston, Boardwalk Auto Group, Pennzoil Ultra, AdShip and QT Technologies.

The next round of the 2010 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron will be the Utah Grand Prix at Miller Motorsports Park, Tooele, near Salt Lake City, Utah on July 11. The two-hour, 45-minute race is set for 2:35 p.m. MT. SPEED will air the race live at 4:30 p.m. ET. Live radio coverage will be available on American Le Mans Radio presented by Porsche -- a production of Radio Show Limited -- as well as Sirius Channel 127 and XM Channel 242.

-source: risicompetizione.com

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Giancarlo Fisichella , Gianmaria Bruni , Jaime Melo , Toni Vilander
Teams AF Corse , Krohn Racing , Risi Competizione