Phoenix, AZ - Ferrari red will once again blaze through the Arizona desert this weekend as the ...
Phoenix, AZ - Ferrari red will once again blaze through the Arizona desert this weekend as the #12 Risi Competizione Ferrari 333 SP scorches around the 1.51-mile road course at Phoenix International Raceway for the inaugural running of the Sun Automotive 200 presented by azcentral.com and cars.com. Drivers Mimmo Schiatarella and Ralf Kelleners will pilot the 580 horsepower, six-speed V-12 Prancing Horse for the inaugural Grand American Road Racing Series championship battle
"Driving a Risi Competizione Ferrari represents a great honor for me," said the Italian Schiatarella, who grew up in Ferrari's hometown of Maranello. "I feel the heritage of the make in the team and in my blood. Risi Competizione is a fantastic team, able to do a wonderful job. I love challenges and we have to face strong ones with the seven-year-old Ferrari 333 SP, but I'm confident with the team personnel. I feel right that the team stayed committed to Ferrari."
"I am excited to be competing at Phoenix in the Ferrari," said Kelleners. "It is another new track and that is great. I love the challenge. I expect it may be a little like Las Vegas, including the dry weather conditions. It will be fun! "
The famed 333 SP experienced success in its debut on the twisty Phoenix International Raceway road course in 1995, as the Scandia Racing Ferrari team was triumphant at the IMSA Exxon World Sports Car Championship. Fermin Velez piloting the winning car while three other 333 SPs took third, fifth and eighth positions. Velez continued to dominate that season, capturing two more victories and six Top Five finishes en route to clinching the Driver's Championship, and the Manufacturer's Championship for Ferrari. In the year 2000, Risi Competizione plans to bring the Prancing Horse to the front of the pack once again and dominate under the southwestern sun.
The 2000 season started positively for Risi Competizione as a stellar lineup of pilots joined the team for the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Alex Caffi and Mimmo Schiattarella, both former Formula One standouts, teamed with dominant sports car endurance and Porsche Super Cup race winner, Ralf Kelleners and the legendary Allan McNish to campaign for the win. Caffi put the car on the front row, outside of the Dyson Racing Ford Riley & Scott MK III for the start of the race. The endurance classic took its toll, however, as the engine failed during the evening, forcing the team to retire.
Last season Mimmo drove in the American Le Mans Series, piloting a Riley & Scott Judd to victory at Road Atlanta Grand Prix with co-driver Eric van de Poele. He also competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, finishing sixth in a Courage Nissan. This year he also drives in the American Le Mans Series in a Lola Judd, recently finishing third at Charlotte.
Mimmo began go kart racing in 1984, claiming 28 wins in the Italian Championship before jumping to Italian Formula 4 racing, taking third place in the season points with five race wins. The next season he captured the Driver's Championship. In 1987 Mimmo raced in the Formula 2000 series, claiming another series title.
He moved through the ranks of Formula 3, competing from 1988 to 1993. He captured Rookie of the Year honors in his first season, and a race win in his sophomore season. In 1991, he competed in the Italian Championships, then a shortened 1992 Formula 2 Series campaign in South America before suffering a broken leg that interrupted his season.
Mimmo then headed to the United States to compete in the 1993 Formula Atlantic Series. He returned to Formula 3 competition at the 1993 Monte Carlo Grand Prix, setting a new track record. Later that year, he drove a Ferrari F-40 to victory in the Motorshow Trophy and clinched the Sports Prototype European Championship.
During the 1994 season Mimmo competed in his first CART race at the Molson Indy Grand Prix in Toronto. At Mid-Ohio, Mimmo was second on the grid following a rain soaked qualifying effort, losing the pole to Emerson Fittipaldi and finishing in 14th place.
His competitive stint in CART led to a Formula One ride with the Simtek Ford in 1994 and 1995. Fast from the start, Mimmo achieved a result of 11th in 1994, besting that with a seventh in 1995. He also competed in the Touring Car series, driving a Ferrari F-40 to victory in Bologna.
In 1996 he drove the developmental Prototype BMW for IMSA competition, won at the Motorshow Supercar GT Grand Prix in a Ferrari F-40, as well as the 6-hour race at Vallelunga.
In 1997, Mimmo took his Benetton Lotus to a third place finish in the FIA GT series, and piloted the Ferrari F-40 to victory. During 1998, he competed on the CART Champ car circuit, driving a Reynard Mercedes with a best finish of 16th at Mid Ohio.
Joining Mimmo behind the wheel of the Risi Competizione Ferrari is German road racing ace Ralf Kelleners. In 1999 Kelleners competed in a variety of cars, including the Porsche Super Cup, capturing three victories en route to taking fifth in the Driver's Championship. He also joined the Toyota GT-One team as a factory driver for the 24 Hours of LeMans, competed in two races on the ISRS calendar in a Kremer 8 Sportscar, as well as three stints on the American Le Mans Series tour in a Porsche GT1. This season he also drove a Porsche Lola Prototype at the 12 Hours of Sebring.
Kelleners began his driving career in 1986 competing in the European Go Kart Championship, claiming second place. He moved into the formula ranks, claiming the F 2000 driver's championship in 1987 and competed in Formula 3 from 1988 to 1990. He began Touring Car racing and has experienced success in the German Group N class, as well as the DTM circuit.
From 1993 to 1995 Kelleners competed in the German GT Cup. He drove a Ford Escort Cosworth during 1993 and in 1994 and captured the ADAC GT Cup Championship driving a Porsche Carrera RSR to three victories. He also won the Nissan-Mobil 500 Series title in New Zealand with two race wins. In 1995, Kelleners drove to second place in the GT Cup in a Porsche 911 GT2.
Ralf Kelleners' success continued during 1996 as he captured victories in GT1 competition in Zhuhai, China as a Porsche factory driver, and in GT2 competition, taking three class wins in the BPR series, and the GT2 class title at the 24 Hours of LeMans. He won the German Carrera Cup Championship with two victories and the Porsche Super Cup with another two wins.
In 1997 Kelleners was victorious in the GT2 class at the 24 Hours of Daytona in a Porsche 911, capturing fourth overall. He competed in two races in the FIA GT World Championship in a Porsche GT1 as a factory driver, as well as piloting the Porsche at the 24 Hours of LeMans.
Kelleners experienced success in the Porsche GT1 at the 1988 24 Hours of Daytona, finishing in fourth. He drove the Porsche to class victories at Watkins Glen and Petit Le Mans, and competed with the Toyota GT-One team as a factory driver at the 24 Hours of LeMans. Kelleners also raced in the ISRS race in Kyalami, South Africa, and in six races in the Porsche Super Cup Championship.
Risi Competizione, formerly Doyle-Risi Racing, is owned by Ferrari of Houston principal Giuseppe Risi and Technical Director John McLoughlin, who campaigned the Ferrari 333 SP for the 1998 and 1999 seasons.
In 1998, Wayne Taylor and Eric van der Poele won the Toshiba Grand Prix of Las Vegas, captured a class victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and won the inaugural Petit Le Mans for the Risi team. Their efforts contributed significantly to Ferrari's second WSC Manufacturer's Championship as Taylor went on to capture the 1998 Driver's Championship.
Last season the Ferrari struggled with rules changes that limited its potential and as new cars were breaking into the forefront of competition, but the Risi team managed to capture 10 Top Ten finishes and was consistently the top finishing Ferrari in the field.
For the 2000 Grand Am season, the #12 Risi Competizione Ferrari team will be running on Goodyear Eagles. Last year Goodyear took top honors in both the ALMS and USRRC series championships.
The famed Ferrari 333 SP will go down as one of the most revolutionary machines in sports car racing history, as it re-ignited a passion for full-bodied, prototype racers in the United States and around the world. Phoenix will be a show not to miss, as Ferrari fans all over will continue to cheer its staying power and history-making efforts in sports car racing.