RELIABILITY WILL BE KEY TO GT2 VICTORY AT LE MANS American Le Mans Series GT2 Champions, Risi Competizione, together with its fellow Houston-based racing partner Krohn Racing, will be looking for nothing less than class victory in the 75th...
RELIABILITY WILL BE KEY TO GT2 VICTORY AT LE MANS
American Le Mans Series GT2 Champions, Risi Competizione, together with its fellow Houston-based racing partner Krohn Racing, will be looking for nothing less than class victory in the 75th running of the most famous sportscar race in the world, the 24 Hours of Le Mans on 16th/17th June. A win would not only add significantly to the team's 2007 success record, but it would also be the perfect 60th Anniversary gift from the sportscar world to Ferrari SpA.
The tight-knit, privately owned team, under the control of Giuseppe Risi, is returning to La Sarthe for the first time since 2003 with two Ferrari 430 GT cars. While confident of the Ferrari's proven speed and reliability, no one is under any illusions about the challenge ahead from all the GT competitors, particularly the strong Porsche teams - the German marque being the only one to have an edge over Ferrari in terms of participation at Le Mans.
A focused development programme has been run in line with the American Le Mans Series races to date, and Giuseppe Risi is assured of the car's capabilities and its talented and enthusiastic driver line up.
"Obviously we go to Le Mans with the same aim as we do for all our races," said Risi. "Victory. Ferrari has a very special relationship with the 24 Hours of Le Mans, being one of the two most successful marques in its history, and the two cars entered by Risi Competizione in 2007 will be racing to uphold that honour.
"I'm confident we've got a good package with a race-winning, proven car, strong engine, great tyres and consistent, solid drivers," continued Risi. "Having said that, we would never underestimate the magnitude of the race, and the knowledge that anything can happen at any time, and that will keep us sharp."
The 'right' package includes the Ferrari-developed 4-litre V8 engine, a good aerodynamic set up, race-proven Michelin tyres, and a multi national, star-studded driver line up which includes a mix of experience, youth and international racing success.
Car 97 will be the focus of much attention thanks to the winning combination of its driver line up. Finland's Mika Salo, the hugely experienced former F1 driver who helped Risi to its GT2 Championship success in 2006, will be making his second Le Mans start. He will be lining up alongside the two drivers with whom he shared success at Sebring in March of this year. Jaime Melo, the Italian-based Brazilian who is the current FIA GT2 Champion, has also just one Le Mans start to his name, so Britain's Johnny Mowlem's four years of knowledge will be important in setting up the car and preparing for the race.
All the drivers in the red Ferrari have great experience with the car itself, having driven it at many races in Europe and the USA, and their knowledge and advice will be invaluable in helping their less experienced team mates prepare for the race.
The three Krohn Racing drivers entered in car 99 as a result of the special five-race racing relationship between Risi and Krohn Racing, feature an ideal mix of experience, youth and enthusiasm.
Tracy W Krohn, of Houston, Texas, is team owner/driver of the two-car Krohn Racing Daytona Prototype team in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, and he will be taking his second Le Mans start, having made his debut at La Sarthe in 2006. He races with the very talented, 18-year-old Colin Braun, also from Texas -- who is the only one of the entire driver line up not to have visited Le Mans before. They will be guided and helped as always by the highly experienced Nic Jonsson, Krohn's regular team mate in Grand-Am and with whom he raced at Sebring and Houston.
Jaime Melo: "This car is much more competitive and we have it working very well. The most important thing is the consistency of the drivers. Driving with Mika and Johnny is good because we have almost the same feeling for the car."
Johnny Mowlem: "The Risi team is very strong, as we proved at Sebring, and I am really optimistic about our chances to win at Le Mans. We have work to do during the test (on Sunday, 3rd June) to be sure we have the car properly prepared, but the Risi team is well organized and very good at this. It is almost impossible to tell whether any car can be reliable over 24 hours, but you'd have to say that the 430 should be as reliable as the new Porsche, especially as this will only be the 2nd time the Porsche has attempted to go for 24 hours (the first time being at last year's Spa 24 hours). However, the Risi team is very experienced with this car now, and if anyone can make it last 24 hours, it's them."
Mika Salo: "It's nice to be able to say that we have had so much success in America but Le Mans is a much bigger deal. There is no point in going there and being happy with second place. To succeed at Le Mans you have to stay out of trouble, spend as little time as possible in the pits, and maintain a consistent pace throughout and that's what we will be aiming to do."
Colin Braun: "I am really excited about driving at Le Mans for the first time. I went there last year as a spectator and really enjoyed the whole event, and got a feel for the history of the race. To go there now as a Krohn Racing driver and be in a Risi Competizione car is going to be a lot of fun and something I'm really looking forward to."
Nic Jonsson: "It's absolutely great to be back at Le Mans, the greatest race in the world. I think I'm more relaxed this year, and more confident as I know where everything is and know about the track. It's great to be with Tracy and Colin as we all know each other very well and to be with the Risi Competizione team. It's a tremendous honour to be part of that."
Tracy W Krohn: "I'm really ready to get into the car again at Le Mans and am delighted to be back there. Hopefully my second time will be charmed. The Ferrari is an extremely well balanced car and easier to drive than the Porsche of last year so we'll definitely give Porsche and the others a run for their money. I'm really looking to a podium finish."
The race, which begins at 3.00pm (local, 9.00am CDT) on the 16th/17th June will be seen by over 230,000 spectators, 217 million TV viewers worldwide, and reported on by 2,300 journalists from over 38 nations.