RISI TOPS GT2 TIME SHEETS IN A DAY OF MIXED FORTUNES Following on from the torrential rain at last year's 24 Hours of Le Mans event, there was yet more inclement weather to deal with in today's one day of official testing for this ...
RISI TOPS GT2 TIME SHEETS IN A DAY OF MIXED FORTUNES
Following on from the torrential rain at last year's 24 Hours of Le Mans event, there was yet more inclement weather to deal with in today's one day of official testing for this year's twice-round-the-clock endurance classic.
However, at the end of eight hours of available track time, the Houston-based Risi Competizione team's #82 Ferrari 430 GT topped the timing sessions in the GT2 class. Jaime Melo's fastest time of 4:05.561 set the benchmark, closely followed by the #80 Porsche of Risi's ALMS competitor, Flying Lizard Motorsports, in the hands of Jorg Bergmeister.
Reigning ALMS GT2 Champion Melo, his regular team mate Mika Salo, and Le Mans rookie, Gimmi Bruni, completed a total of 34 laps running during the day, electing not to go out at the wettest times in order not to put the car at undue risk for the race in two weeks' time. As a newcomer, Bruni was obliged to complete a minimum of ten laps as a 'rookie test' and this was done early in the day before the weather deteriorated.
The Italian said afterwards: "I like the circuit, it's very nice. Unfortunately it was damp, wet and dry on the track while I was out there so we didn't get a chance to push much, but it was okay. The track does feel very long, compared to what I'm used to, especially on the Mulsanne, but I'm getting accustomed to it!"
The fortunes of the #83 Ferrari, piloted by Krohn Racing's Nic Jonsson, Tracy Krohn and Eric van de Poele, were not so good. After Eric van de Poele, a Le Mans winner in 1998, had completed his rookie test of ten mandatory laps (because it is more than three years since he last raced here in France), the rain started to fall and the remainder of the morning session was largely sat out. Tracy Krohn was looking forward to a longer run in the dry conditions at the start of the afternoon session, but had only turned three laps of the 13.629 km (8.46 mile) circuit when his off-track excursion brought a premature end to the afternoon for he and his team mates.
Despite very mixed weather and challenging track conditions, the team was pleased with what had been achieved in terms of tire evaluation and chassis set up, and Chief Engineer Rick Mayer's comments summed it up well. "If we had to start the race tomorrow, I think we would be in very good shape."
These views were echoed by Team Principal, Giuseppe Risi, who said after the end of the day, "We have had a good day and we were able to do everything we wanted to within the parameters of the conditions, which obviously affected everyone else as well. I'm happy with the progress made during our time out there on the track.
"It was very disappointing for Tracy Krohn to have had the accident, but the team will pull together to have the car repaired and ready for presentation at scrutineering on Tuesday, June 10. We have heard from Tracy since he went to the hospital for a check up and he's feeling well, with no worrying aches and pains, and will be flying home tomorrow as planned."
The race, which begins at 3.00pm (local, 9.00am CDT) on the 14th June, will be seen by over 250,000 spectators, up to 386 million TV viewers worldwide, and reported on by 1,800 journalists from over 35 nations.