Giancarlo Fisichella and German Pierre Kaffer will pilot the 465-horsepower Ferrari for the 100-minute Tequila Patrón Sports Car Showcase at Long Beach sprint race.
Houston - The No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 458 Italia race team returns to the 1.968-mile, 11-turn street circuit in Long Beach, California this week for Round Three of the 2015 IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship series. Italian Giancarlo Fisichella and German Pierre Kaffer will pilot the 465-horsepower Ferrari for the 100-minute Tequila Patrón Sports Car Showcase at Long Beach sprint race, which will feature just 18 entries in the combined Prototype and GTLM class event.
Risi Competizione has experienced success in this fan favorite Southern California race, having won in 2007 and collected additional podium finishes in 2007 (3rd with second entry), 2009 (2nd) and 2011 (3rd). Risi's two-car entry dominated the field in 2007 when Jamie Melo and Mika Salo won the race in the No. 62 Ferrari 430 entry and Anthony Lazzaro and Nic Jonsson finished third in the sister No. 61 Ferrari 430 entry. The Houston-based Ferrari team also has two pole positions at Long Beach in 2007 and 2010.
Last year at Long Beach Giancarlo Fisichella paired with American Dane Cameron in the Risi Ferrari 458 Italia to a ninth-place finish. Fisichella and Kaffer recently teamed with Italian Andrea Bertolini and the trio raced to a third-place finish in the GTLM class at the 12 Hours of Sebring.
Pierre Kaffer, No. 62 Ferrari 458 Italia, Risi Competizione Driver
You've raced at Long Beach once, in 2009, with Risi Competizione. Tell us what it's going to be like racing with them again in 2015 with the IMSA series...
"The Long Beach circuit is very challenging but I like it. It is difficult to pass so you must be patient and the circuit is quite bumpy. Ferrari is always popular with the fans and there are so many fans at Long Beach. I like this and the California weather is nice too. It is a pleasure to drive here again with Risi Competizione and I'm ready to get started."
Thoughts on the sprint race format... "The 100-minute race is very short, especially after just having raced at Sebring and Daytona, the two longest races of the year. You must not make any mistakes because you will lose laps. One mistake on a pit stop or on-track and your race is finished because you lose too much. This is a big challenge with this sprint race. With street races it is difficult because sometimes you can be caught in someone else's mistake and they finish your race for you. We must drive clean and make no mistakes. If we can do this we should have a good result."
Giancarlo Fisichella, No. 62 Ferrari 458 Italia, Risi Competizione Driver
What are your thoughts on the Long Beach sprint race?
"I like the sprint race. Last year was my first time and I really like the circuit and the atmosphere around there [Long Beach]. We were not competitive last year and I'm sure we can do well this year. I am looking forward to this race. You will need a lot of traction and a soft car for all of the bumps. I think we can do well here."
On street circuits in general...
"I like street circuits. One of my favorites is Monte Carlo. "
Rick Mayer, Risi Competizione Race Engineer
Long Beach is a very different kind of race and circuit -- just 100 minutes and a tight street circuit. How do you best prepare for the race set up and strategy to have an advantage?
"The race setup here is always part guess. The track changes throughout the event and is quite different normally by the time we race. The track tendency is to increase understeer for the race as the track rubbers in. The question is how much.
Strategy here is equally difficult. A green pit stop puts you down a lap easily as it's a very long pit lane and that's at 60 kph. We can go just over an hour on fuel so if it's green it's one stop. Compounding this is the stop will be relatively short, making the tire and drivers change potentially pivotal on how you exit the pits. It's very difficult and a bit high risk to pass here on track as well. Qualifying position will be important."
How will you choose the starting driver for the race and what could be the factors to have only one driver for the entire race?
"This year the qualifying driver has to start the race. We're not certain what we'll do in driver rotation quite yet. We'll see how are drivers settle in and what they feel is the best strategy for rotation. They are both exceptional drivers and both know the track, so we'll have to see how this plays out.
One driver could easily do the entire race but we need them both to get points. There is no minimum driver time this year so there is no limitations on when you pit."
Two practice sessions get underway before GTLM qualifying on Friday April 17. The first practice for both classes is from 7:45 a.m. - 9:45 a.m. PDT (10:45 a.m. - 12:45 a.m. EDT), followed by a thirty-five minute practice session scheduled for 4:45 p.m. PDT (7:45 p.m. EDT). GTLM class qualifying is scheduled for the same day from 5:30 - 5:45 p.m. PDT (8:30 EDT for 15 minutes). The 100-minute race starts on Saturday, April 18 at 4:05 p.m. PDT (7:05 EDT).