Risi Competizione has productive Daytona January test

Risi Competizione press release

Risi Competizione with American Canadian Racing complete successful Roar Before the Rolex 24 test

Daytona, Florida, 8 January 2012. The Risi Competizione with American Canadian Racing team has completed two full and positive days of testing at the Roar before the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway in preparation for the opening round of the Grand-Am 2012 Rolex Series – the Daytona 24 Hours.

Running two of Ferrari’s latest GT challengers, the GT3-specification Ferrari 458 Italia Grand Am, the Houston-based team and its top-line, highly experienced, international line up of drivers achieved all it set out to do in this last test before the 50th Anniversary running of the Rolex 24 endurance classic from 26-29 January.

It’s been a very positive test with the new Ferrari 458 Italia Grand Am.

Toni Vilander

The aims for the test were to familiarize the drivers with the both the new car and the 3.56 mile, 12-turn Daytona speedway road course, to work on an optimum set up for the 24-hour event, and to fully test the reliability and durability of the newly-delivered V8-engined F458 Grand Am.

Both the No.62 and No.63 ran well over the two days, with very few teething troubles experienced over the five sessions in which they participated. The biggest ‘problem’ was one unassociated with the car as Gianmaria Bruni was struck down with a high fever and flu-like symptoms and was unable to take part in any of Saturday’s running. He did, however, complete 10 laps on Friday and will be able to profit from his team-mates set up work when he returns for the race.

Only three of the Ferrari drivers (Beretta, Matos and Vilander) had driven at Daytona before, but all were very positive about their experiences over the two days, and can’t wait to return in just over two weeks for the race.

Driver Quotes – Car no. 62:

Giancarlo Fisichella, former Scuderia Ferrari F1 driver and current Le Mans Series GTE-Pro Champion: “As usual, when racing in America, I think there’s a fantastic atmosphere and I feel great about being here. I really enjoyed driving at the Daytona circuit for the first time and on the banking, which is very steep – it was a great sensation! Once I’d got confidence on the track, I was on the pace and the team did a good job. We are going in the right direction with the car set up, have found a good pace, and I’m sure we can fight for a podium finish although the target is obviously to win the race. It will be tough, we know, as there is a very strong GT field.

“It was our first time with this Ferrari 458 Italia Grand Am car and we found just a few small problems with the grip level and traction, mostly I think because of the tire compound which is new to us and which we have to get to know better. It will be important for the race to look after our tires as it’s a long race. The night temperatures are very cold so we have to be especially careful leaving the pits on cold tires.”

Raphael Matos, 2008 GT Rolex 24 winner and former Indy Lites champion and 2009 Indycar Rookie of the Year: “I think the Ferrari 458 Italia Grand Am performed very well and we achieved what we had planned before the test. We put a lot of miles on the car to see how reliable it is, and now the team will tear it down and find out what we have to look at or improve on for the 24-hour race. As performance goes, both cars were running very well and I got to know all the drivers well; it’s a great group of guys and a great environment in the team and I’m very happy with everything that’s happened this week.”

#63 Risi Competizione Ferrari 458: Olivier Beretta, Andrea Bertolini, Toni Vilander
#63 Risi Competizione Ferrari 458: Olivier Beretta, Andrea Bertolini, Toni Vilander

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

Driver Quotes – Car no. 63:

Toni Vilander, double FIA GT Champion for Ferrari and Risi Competizione regular: “It’s been a very positive test with the new Ferrari 458 Italia Grand Am and we learned a lot over the two days. I’m happy to be here in Daytona and am really starting to understand the full meaning of the Rolex 24 at Daytona – it’s a huge and impressive event.

“As far as the car is concerned, we are used to racing the GT2 car and this GT3 spec car is a bit different so we’ve been adapting our driving style to it for a few days. I think we are improving all the time and working well towards the race so there’s a lot to be positive about.”

Andrea Bertolini, Scuderia Ferrari test and development driver and winner of more GT1 World championship titles than any other driver: “I think we all did a very good job here during this test and worked hard to improve the set up on the car. For me it was the first time at Daytona, and for Oli it was the first time in a Ferrari 458, so at the end of the day we are really happy with the balance and what we achieved.

“The 24 Hours will be really tough, as always, but I think especially in the night. The gap in speed between the Daytona Prototypes and the GT cars (and the different levels of drivers) will be tricky so we have to take care. The night is long here but the lights are fantastic and almost like daylight, compared to somewhere like the Spa 24 hours where it’s very, very dark.

“The banking was a new experience for me and on my first lap on Friday it felt really strange because, if you check in front of you, you see only 50-70 metres and no more because the corner feels really close. But after you’ve done it a few times it feels really good! I spoke with Toni [Vilander] before the test and he told me it’s really easy to do flat out so that was a good advice.

“It’s important now to remain focussed as we have a lot to do before the race. We need to collect all our feedback to prepare the car fully. All the Risi Competizione guys did an excellent job and I’m really proud to be here for the 24 Hours.”

#63 Risi Competizione Ferrari 458: Olivier Beretta, Andrea Bertolini, Toni Vilander
#63 Risi Competizione Ferrari 458: Olivier Beretta, Andrea Bertolini, Toni Vilander

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

Olivier Beretta, Ferrari’s latest GT signing, multiple GT1 title and endurance champion and winner in 2000 of the Rolex 24 at Daytona: “It’s been a long time that I’ve wanted to drive for Ferrari and finally I’ve got the opportunity to do it so the smile is back [on my face]! The team has been really welcoming and I already knew some of my team mates like Andrea Bertolini and Giancarlo Fisichella well so I feel comfortable here. I think we’ve got a very good line up and team and the test went very, very well. All the drivers want the same thing on the car as far as set up is concerned and that’s good news so now we just have to work harder to achieve our target.

“This is my first time back at Daytona International Speedway since I won here in 2000 with the Dodge Viper and obviously the track has been re-paved since that time. The banking is a lot less bumpy than before but the infield is similar to what I remember...but it is 12 years ago! It’s always nice to be back in Daytona, especially in a Ferrari.”

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Giancarlo Fisichella , Gianmaria Bruni , Olivier Beretta , Andrea Bertolini , Eric Gilbert , Toni Vilander
Teams Risi Competizione
Tags american canadian racing, bertolini, featured, ferrari, fisichella, matos, risi competizione, vilander