Risi Competizione Prepared to Deliver Ferrari’s First Win at Long Beach Since 2008
One team to watch in a robust GT Le Mans (GTLM) field set to duel at Long Beach is the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE.
Co-drivers Giancarlo Fisichella, Toni Vilander and James Calado have finished on the GTLM podium in each of the past three races, dating back to a victory in the 2016 season-ending Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. Fisichella and Vilander will share the Ferrari at Long Beach as the team’s full-season driver pairing, as Calado joins the team only for endurance events.
The trio kicked off 2017 with a pair of third-place finishes at the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida, and the Risi team is looking to continue its momentum in Long Beach.
“The GTLM class is so hard, we could see that again in both races at Daytona and Sebring,” Vilander said. “Rivalry between different teams and manufacturers forces us all to take our game to another level. Racing is tough, but that’s why we love it. We are ready.”
The sprint-race format and legendary street circuit layout at Long Beach presents a new set of circumstances to overcome compared with the endurance race/permanent road course format from the two season-opening races.
“Street circuits give us drivers a big challenge,” Vilander continued. “When you need to find the last bit of lap time, you end up taking that risk level quite high. I’ve been on the Long Beach podium twice, finishing third both times. I think we have everything in the right place to challenge for the win this year. (Race Engineer) Rick (Mayer) and the crew are going to prepare our race car on top as always.”
Winning at Long Beach, however, would mean more to Risi than just breaking through to the top step of the podium. The team is also looking to showcase Ferrari’s strength, as the manufacturer has a large presence in Beverly Hills, just over 30 miles from Long Beach, and is in the midst of its 70th anniversary.
Ferrari’s last win in IMSA competition at Long Beach came in 2008 with Dominik Farnbacher and Dirk Mueller behind the wheel of a Ferrari 430 GT. The duo took a GT2 class win by a narrow .102 seconds in the American Le Mans Series.
The Risi team’s last victory at Long Beach came the previous year in 2007 and the team has yet to finish atop the SoCal leaderboard again, albeit recording four podiums in its last seven Long Beach races.
“We have had great success on the Long Beach street circuit,” Team Owner Giuseppe Risi said. “We won our first race there in 2007 with Jamie Melo and Mika Salo. It was a double podium because we ran a second car with Nic Jonsson and Anthony Lazzaro, which took third place, both in the Ferrari 430 GT2. We’ve raced there every year since 2007, except for 2012, and had further podiums in 2009, 2011 and the past two years. So, although it is a very difficult street circuit, we always race to win and would like to tally another victory there.”
Given the team’s momentum and the important of this race to Ferrari, Risi Competizione should be a strong GTLM competitor in the BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix of Long Beach, which will be televised live on FOX on Saturday, April 8 at 1 p.m. local/4 p.m. ET.
Source : imsa.com