ANALYZING THE COMPETIZIONE
Risi’s foray into Grand-Am doesn’t mean it’s given up on ALMS
Ferrari does not designate a factory team
in sports car racing, but Giuseppe Risi’s
Put bluntly, the last two years in the American
Le Mans Series have been particularly crushing. In
its last race with the F430 GT, the car ran out of
fuel on the final lap of the 2010 Petit Le Mans,
which cost the team a title and technical director
Rick Mayer his job. A fraught 2011 with the new
F458 featured a mix of teething issues, strategic
pitfalls and ill-timed accidents that saw Brazilian
Jaime Melo relieved of his driving duties.
While Risi is still more likely to run in ALMS, a
move to Grand-Am wouldn’t surprise either, as the
team would be a relatively big fish in a small pond
of non-factory efforts from Porsche, Chevrolet and
Mazda. A championship could be easier for the
taking with the GT3-spec 458.
Then again, having a year of development on
the GTE-spec F458 Italia could pay dividends on
the ALMS front. With improved pace and combined
with technical partner Michelin, both would seem
likely to make off-season developments that could
upend the BMW/Dunlop juggernaut which
dominated in 2011.
Ferrari and Audi teams have some way
to go to match the best of the best in the
Rolex Series’ GT field. (BELOW) The R8s
suffered persistent clutch issues. Eclectic
GT mix (RIGHT) saw wildly differing
performances and fortunes.
when Pirro’s co-driver Nelson Canache was
nudged o; track, and repairs included
replacing a faulty power steering pump.
Finally, Jim Norman spun o; in the last
half hour, but got a lift back to the pits to at
least see the checkered flag.
APR and Oryx ended 31st and 32nd in
class, completing 447 and 432 laps. While
Ferrari’s fortunes shook out a bit better, the
458s still weren’t quite on par with the
Porsche armada that represented roughly
half the GT field. Two Ferraris made it
home in the top- 10 in class, Risi’s No. 63
entry posting the best result in fifth with
the No. 69 AIM car in eighth.
The No. 63, in the hands of Toni Vilander
and Andrea Bertolini alongside new recruit
Olivier Beretta, didn’t get great fuel mileage
either, but a consistent e;ort ensured the
trio was rarely outside the top 10.
“I didn’t have fresh air, just warm air
and the brakes weren’t working at their
“The Ferrari is fast, but we have to
remember the Porsches have been
racing here for many, many years”
OLIVIER BERETTA, RISI COMPETIZIONE
best,” Beretta stated. “I was trying to push hard, but avoid any
mistakes, and we ended up fifth. Everyone has seen the Ferrari is
fast, but we have to remember the Porsches have been racing here
for many, many years and we just arrived a few months ago.”
AIM ran to eighth despite one of Segal’s co-drivers, Anthony
Lazzaro, engaging in two of the race’s most spellbinding moments.
In the night, he ran wide at the chicane and nearly took out two
other 458s. Later, when Allan McNish and Ozz Negri in the leading
Riley-Fords came through to lap him and the ESM Ferrari, the pair
split around the Georgia native, McNish getting within inches of
the wall! The four-wide moment could have been disastrous.
Elsewhere, Extreme Speed overcame a fuel sensor electrical
issue and air jack system replacement en route to a respectable
13th in class. The all-star AF Waltrip car, featuring two-time
Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip and
action sports superstar Travis Pastrana,
avoided o;-track excursions or garage trips
until the final hour, when Waltrip nosed in
at Turn 5. The team ended the day 22nd.