RISI COMPETIZIONE DRIVERS MIKA SALO AND JAIME MELO RETURN TO THE TEAM FOR THE INAUGURAL UTAH GRAND PRIX. Houston, TX - Houston, Texas based Risi Competizione, competing in the ALMS series this year with a Ferrari F430GT, is pleased to announce...
RISI COMPETIZIONE DRIVERS MIKA SALO AND JAIME MELO RETURN TO THE TEAM FOR THE INAUGURAL UTAH GRAND PRIX.
Houston, TX - Houston, Texas based Risi Competizione, competing in the ALMS series this year with a Ferrari F430GT, is pleased to announce that former Ferrari Formula 1 Driver Mika Salo, now one of the world's top sports car drivers', and Jaime Melo, a Ferrari factory driver and one of the fastest drivers in the GT2 class, will rejoin the team for the inaugural running of the American Le Mans Series Utah Grand Prix to be held at the new Miller Motorsports Park in Salt Lake City on Saturday, July 15th, 2006. The announcement means that Salo and Melo, who drove during two of the team's first three races of the season, will be re-united on the track again. Jaime Melo also drove for Risi Competizione at this year's 12 Hours of Sebring, where he set the lap record.
At Sebring, the team took to the podium in the heavily contested GT2 class. That was followed by another third in class at the Lone Star Grand Prix. At Mid-Ohio, the team was headed for a podium finish when it was bumped off course; finishing in sixth position. At Lime Rock, on the first weekend in July, the Risi Competizione F430GT, driven by Mario Dominguez and Marc Gene, posted a 5th in class after an on-track incident necessitated two pit stops during the first 20 minutes of the race.
"To date", said Team Managing Director Giuseppe Risi, "We have had the fastest car or the second fastest car in every race we've been in. We have contested for the podium in every race. We've also had a unique, in my experience, number of on-track incidents. Mika Salo and Jaime Melo are both superb drivers and we're delighted to have them back with us for Salt Lake City and the rest of our schedule. We also hope they've brought their good luck with them."
Mika Salo started 150 Grand Prix races as a Formula 1 driver and took over from Michael Schumacher when the German driver was injured in 1999, delivering a second place in the Austrian GP after handing over the victory to Ferrari teammate Eddie Irvine and then, three races later, taking a podium for Ferrari with a third place. Since leaving F1, he has become a top driver in sports cars. Last year, he drove for Risi Competizione and Maserati Reparto Corse in the Maserati MC12 sports car which ran in ALMS. Jaime Melo is a factory driver for Ferrari and has quickly built a reputation as one of the fastest drivers in the ALMS.
The race at Miller Motorsports Park in Salt Lake City Utah should prove to be quite a test for team and drivers. "One good thing," said Team Manager Dave Sims, "No races have been held at this track yet. This is a new ALMS track and no one has a history with it. We're all starting on page one, teams and drivers." The 4.5 mile, 24 turn circuit features a 3500 foot straight. "This will be the third race, out of a total of five that Salo and Melo have driven for our team" Sims continued. "That's a plus and, of course, we're hoping that the third times a charm and we can finish at the top of the podium. So far this year, a different team has won each of the first four races so, all things being equal, let's hope it's our turn this weekend." The race will start at 6:00PM local time, and end two hours and forty-five minutes (2:45) later. The race will be televised on CBS on July 16th, at 12PM (MST) (Check local listings for time and channel).