Houston-based Risi Competizione gave a dominant display of endurance racing today at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, with its #62 Ferrari F430 GTC winning the GT2 class for the third time in four years and placing an impressive 6th place overall.
The race win, in the hands of Gianmaria Bruni, Jaime Melo and Pierre Kaffer, extended a winning streak of endurance classic victories encompassing Sebring, Le Mans and Petit Le Mans which began in France in 2008.
The team’s #61 car, piloted by Tracy Krohn, Nic Jonsson and Eric van de Poele, overcame an intermittent misfire, which had plagued them for much of the race and caused a loss of power, to finish 7th in class and 14th overall.
Team Principal Giuseppe Risi was both proud and emotional at the end of the long, hot race and said: “This is a very special moment, once again. There are always special moments when you race hard and have success, but even more so to win at Sebring and to do so for the third time in four years with the Ferrari 430. I hope that this goes a long way towards letting every 430 owner in the whole world know what a great car this is.”
While the GT race offered much potential excitement for race fans at the green flag, with extremely strong entries from BMWs, Corvettes, Ferraris and Porsches, various track and pit incidents befell many of Risi’s competitors. After leading for over ten of the 12 hour race, the #62 car took the checkered flag one lap ahead of the BMWs of Dirk Werner and Dirk Müller.
Jaime Melo (#62-GT2 Ferrari 430) paid tribute to the Ferrari 430 GTC and to his team: “I am really happy – we couldn’t ask for more than this at the start of the season. The Risi team is very, very good and, with three drivers who are very consistent like me, Gimmi and Pierre were today, it’s the way to win this kind of race. The Michelin tires work well for us and we can always rely on them completely. Having said that, the only problem we had was in my first stint when the tires went off a bit in the second half of the stint – because we’d done a few more laps in qualifying than our competitors. I know the 430 from when we first started developing the car in 2006 and we want to put it in the history books in the best way possible so we want to win this year so bad. By doing that, we can send it off in a good way.”
Gianmaria Bruni (#62-GT2 Ferrari 430 GT) “It’s a fantastic feeling to win, after being 2nd last year. It was special because it was kind of a dream race and I enjoyed it a lot. We were fighting at the beginning, then overtook the leader and pulled away. We were only not in the lead twice and both times we overtook the leader which was fun. We showed that the three of us drivers, Risi, and Michelin worked really well together and this really helps with momentum going into the rest of the season. I think it will be a great season!”
Pierre Kaffer (#62-GT2 Ferrari 430 GT): “It’s a wonderful feeling to win another endurance race and it’s awesome to drive the for best GT2 team with a Ferrari. From my part I am pleased to have been able to help the team start the season so well and give them a good way forward for Long Beach and the rest of the season. Thanks especially to all the mechanics who did a brilliant job after my little mistake earlier in the week – you really get to enjoy driving this car and to do it here with Jaime and Gimmi was really great.”
Tracy W. Krohn (# 61 Risi-Krohn Ferrari 430): “Overall it was a fairly good result. The problem was the car was misfiring and at the end we broke something in the right rear suspension. Nic was driving the car. I was going to get in the car for the final stint but with the motor misfiring and a broken rear shock it probably didn’t make sense to feel something you hadn’t gotten used to so we just kept Nic in and kept ahold of seventh place. I think under the circumstances, with the car underpowered and crippled, that was a pretty good finish. Both Nic and Eric did an outstanding job. Otherwise the car was pretty good. Brakes were good, balance was good, tires were good. It’s just one of those things that happens in racing once in awhile.”
Nic Jonsson (# 61 Risi-Krohn Ferrari 430): “It’s always fun to drive the Ferrari, of course. It’s kind of an honor to be driving a Ferrari in any type of race series. Unfortunately, today we had some electrical issues that caused the engine to cut out on us and lose power randomly. Then in the last hour and a half we also had a right rear shock go out on me, so it was a pretty rough last stint in the car. We brought it home in seventh place, which was mid-pack. We beat both the GM factory cars, the Corvettes, so we’re pleased with that. Everything worked in the middle of the day for some laps in a row without any interruption and we were able to run basically in the top 3-4 pace, which I’m very happy with. The sister car (No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari) won. They were definitely the class of the field and we couldn’t stay with them by any means. They were about a second quicker than we were. Otherwise I’m very pleased.
“Eric did a fantastic job. Tracy also did a good job staying out of trouble. The car was good, except the interruptions we had electronically, which the team didn’t have anything to do with. The preparation of the car was as good as always. I’m looking forward to going to Laguna for another 6-hour race and getting even more prepared for the big race in Le Mans in June.”
Eric van de Poele (#61-GT2 Ferrari 430 GT): “I’m always very happy to finish a race at Sebring because it is always so hard. Again, we had a little problem but generally we did very good pit stops; I don’t think any of us made a mistake on the track, so that’s important; and the car was nearly perfect from a chassis point-of-view, except for the misfire from the engine. I had a problem with the brakes but except otherwise everything was fine and consistent. I’m happy always to finish this race. It’s a pleasure to drive for Giuseppe and Tracy. I also want to say congratulations to Jaime, Gimmi and Pierre and the whole Risi team. Everyone did a great job.”
Courtesy ALMS © RIF