GT – Risi Leads Michelin 1-2 in Tight Mid-Ohio GT Battle

August 7, 2010

GT – Risi Leads Michelin 1-2 in Tight Mid-Ohio GT Battle

August 7, 2010

Gianmaria Bruni congratulates Jaime Melo on the winning pass that netted Risi Ferrari their third win of 2010. Photo credit: Rick Dole for Michelin North America

After leading a majority of the race at Mid-Ohio in the GT class, Jaime Melo restarted third behind the pair of Rahal Letterman BMWs. Determined to bounce back from a failure to finish at Lime Rock, along with trying to secure Risi Competizione’s first class win at Mid-Ohio, Melo was a man on the mission when the green flag flew.

Melo made an incredible pass into Turn 2, the “Keyhole,” on the inside of both BMWs. Making the pass is one thing, but the Brazilian hard charger hung on through the corner and on the exit. The eventual winning maneuver secured a needed victory for Melo and Gianmaria Bruni, their third of the season.

“That was the only chance to get around them because it was almost impossible to get around them on a straight line,” Melo said. “I actually got a little bit in the grass but it worked. After the issues we had with the fuel pump, we knew I had to drive hard to get those positions back.”

The Risi team also made the call to only change the left side Michelin tires on the final pit stop. Although earlier in the race there was a slight fuel pump problem as Melo alluded to, Risi did not need an additional stop to fix the problem and lost only a few seconds in the process.

“That was a decision we made coming into the pits,” Melo said. “I wanted a full set but had the Corvette right at me so we decided to change just the left side and it was a good move. The tires were very consistent and I didn’t have any issues and I could manage any situation. The only issue we had was a fuel pump problem coming out of Turn 2. It was very hard to get back but I am very happy to get here with our first win.”

Michelin secured a 1-2 finish in the intensely competitive class as Corvette Racing had by far its best race of the season. Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta were never more than a few seconds away from the lead and very close to their first win of the season. Gavin and Beretta recorded their best finish of the season, second.

BMW had opportunities to score its first win of the season after splitting strategies on the first round of pit stops, and then emerging ahead of the rest of the field during the final round of stops because each had pitted earlier. Neither was by design, as both the No. 92 and No. 90 car had off-course excursions. The No. 92 finished third with Bill Auberlen and Tommy Milner and the No. 90 finished sixth with Dirk Mueller and Joey Hand.

Porsche took a fourth place result from a challenging weekend with the championship leading duo of Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Long at Flying Lizard Motorsports. The team won the GT portion of the MICHELIN® GREEN X® Challenge, the team’s third of the season (Sebring with the No. 44 car, Long Beach with the No. 45). As the Porsche runs on Cellulosic E85 ethanol, this continues the streak of cars running on E85 winning each of the 6 GT MICHELIN® GREEN X® Challenges this season.

Johannes van Overbeek made a last lap pass of the No. 90 BMW to net fifth place in class. The result for “JVO” and Scott Sharp equaled the new Extreme Speed Ferrari’s best result of their first season.

Provisionally, Bergmeister and Long still lead the GT driver’s championship with 103 points. Melo and Bruni jump to second with 95, and Auberlen and Milner are now third with 92. But things have bunched even closer in the manufacturer’s championship. Ferrari and BMW are tied with 105 points and Porsche has 103, with Chevrolet on 84.

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