Fisichella – Italiano Expresso
Fisichella – Italiano Expresso
It is surprising that one of the premier sports car drivers in the world is making his first visit to one of America’s most storied circuits here at the Sahlen’s 6 Hours at the Glen.
It seems like introductions are in order as Giancarlo Fisichella meets Watkins Glen International.
“I haven’t been there yet but everybody says it’s a fantastic, challenging circuit with lots of ups and downs, so I’m sure I’ll like it and I’m really looking forward to being there,” said Fisichella.
“Fisi” will drive a brilliant red Ferrari 458 Italia from the highly successful Risi Competizione team in the ultra-competitive GT Le Mans class at Watkins Glen.
“This year is the first time I’ve done a full season in North America and I really enjoy it and am happy to be in the USA every time,” said Fisichella.
“There are beautiful circuits, but it is the atmosphere which is special and the fact that there are a lot of people who all want to be there for the racing and to have fun. That’s a great atmosphere to work in and be a part of.”
Indeed, if atmosphere and competition are what he was hoping for in 2014, Fisichella seems to have found the right combination here in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
“It’s great and I’m really happy to be part of the championship this year. I did a couple of races with Risi in 2010 and enjoyed it very much every time I visited a new track, and of course I won Petit Le Mans that year with Risi [co-driving with Jaime Melo and Mika Salo] so that’s a favorite!”
Led by team principal Giuseppe Risi, the Houston based squad has been the very sharp point of the Ferrari spear in North American sports car competition for years, with multiple GT wins at Sebring, 24 Hours of Le Mans, Petit Le Mans and an ALMS GT championship.
Fisichella and the Risi team will need to deliver speed and a near flawless run to take the GTLM win here in the face of a fiercely competitive field.
BMW Team RLL’s Bill Auberlen and Andy Priaulx currently lead the class championship. The Bobby Rahal led squad has claimed podiums in each of the first four events. Teammates, former champion Dirk Mueller and John Edwards have also been impressive in their BMW Z4 GTE at every event.
The new Porsche North America team roared out of the gate with the new Porsche 911 RSR as Nick Tandy and Richard Lietz took the victory at the season opening ROLEX 24 at Daytona and teammates Patrick Long and Michael Christensen won at the Twelve Hours of Sebring.
Having overcome early teething issues with the sleek new seventh generation C7.R cars, Corvette Racing’s 2013 series champions, Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia, have reeled off a pair of wins at the Long Beach and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca rounds and recently finished second at the 24 Hours of Le Mans while teammates and 2012 champs, Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner, have been quick and are poised for their first win of the season.
Meanwhile the always tough SRT Motorsports Viper, which already has a pair of podiums, and Falken Porsche, have taken advantage of the lengthy 24 Hours of Le Mans schedule break to mount their mid-season challenges, having each scored victories in the second half of the 2013 season.
The 2014 season did not start well for the Risi squad or Fisichella. The team was knocked out by major on-track incidents at both Daytona and Sebring before Fisi ever got his first stint in the races.
The former F1 driver with 229 Grand Prix starts to his name for teams including Renault and Ferrari finally made it into TUDOR Championship competition in the third race of the season at Long Beach.
He brought the car home to a strong third in the next round at Monterey to claim the team’s first podium of the season and set the stage for a winning run at Watkins Glen.
With Fischella’s energy and spirited drives and the opportunity for the team to regroup after the early season challenges, the Risi team appears to be returning to form just in time for Watkins Glen.
And as Giuseppe Risi knows well, a shot of espresso is best served after champagne.