The No. 12 Risi Competizione Ferrari 333 SP, usually driven by Ralf Kelleners and Mimmo Schiattarella, will have a pilot change for the inaugural Grand American Road Racing Association event at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisc., July 7-9.
The No. 12 Risi Competizione Ferrari 333 SP, usually driven by Ralf Kelleners and Mimmo Schiattarella, will have a pilot change for the inaugural Grand American Road Racing Association event at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisc., July 7-9. Eric van de Poele will return to the prancing horse for one event, substituting for Kelleners who had a previous race commitment at Nürburgring. This will pair two former Formula One drivers behind the wheel of the Ferrari for the 500-mile Grand-Am race. “I have a lot of confidence in the Risi team, and I know Eric has raced with them in the past, so he is familiar with the team and the car,” said Schiattarella. “I feel like he and I will be a good team and together we can get the Ferrari into victory lane.” After a string of Top Five finishes in the last five of six Grand-Am events, the Risi Competizione Ferrari obtained one of the top sports car driving talents to fill the shoes of Kelleners and compete for another podium finish for the Risi Competizione team. Van de Poele and Schiattarella previously co-drove, combining for a victory at Road Atlanta in April 1999 in a Lola Judd. They started from the rear of the grid and moved through the entire field to take the win. Searching for a replacement for Kelleners, the Risi Competizione team turned to former team driver van de Poele, who drove with the team in 1998, when it competed as the Doyle-Risi Ferrari, claiming seven podium finishes and two victories in Professional Sports Car Series competition with co-pilot Wayne Taylor. The pair, joined by Fermin Velez, co-drove to a class victory at the 24 Hours of LeMans. Van de Poele, competing with Taylor and Emmanuel Collard of France, took the overall victory at the inaugural Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in 1998, adding to his success in the Ferrari. “I am very happy about racing at Road America once again,” said van de Poele. “It is a fantastic track. I love to compete there. I am thrilled to be back in the Ferrari as well. Every time you drive this car, you think it is the last time you will get to drive it, but it is still there and still competitive. It has evolved some more each time I race it, so it is a little better every time.” “I am very happy to be racing with Mimmo once again,” added van de Poele. “We had a fantastic year last year. We are very close and we have a similar driving style, so the car setup will be close for each of us.” Schiattarella is a former open-wheel driver with stellar performances in CART and Formula One, the two most prestigious open-wheeled racing organizations in the world. He has competed in sports car racing for the past four years, working on the development of BMW’s prototype racer, as well as driving in the American Le Mans Series in both 1999 and 2000. Van de Poele has competed in more than 40 different racing cars on over 70 tracks in his 17-year driving career. He has raced in Formula series cars, including Formula One from 1991 to 1994. He found tremendous success in touring car racing, competing in European, British and Spanish touring car championships. Van de Poele has competed at LeMans, either as a test driver or competitor every year since 1991. Ferrari of Houston principal Giuseppe Risi and Technical Director John McLoughlin, who campaigned the Ferrari 333 SP for the 1998 and 1999 seasons as Doyle-Risi Racing, own Risi Competizione. Sponsorship for the team comes from Enron and Coollink.com. The car competes on Goodyear Eagle racing tires.