MICHELIN MOTORSPORTS 24 for 24 “Keep Your Cars”

June 12, 2010

MICHELIN MOTORSPORTS 24 for 24 “Keep Your Cars”

June 12, 2010

In honor of the 78th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2010, the michelinracingusa.com staff offers 24 bits of Le Mans history, factoids and trivia. See www.michelinracingusa.com for updates, features and the complete list, plus Rick Dole photos.

The Risi Competizione Ferrari F430 GT is one of 34 Michelin teams in the Le Mans field. Photo credit: Rick Dole for Michelin North America

Note 20 of 24: Keep Your Cars

The record book says that the Houston-based Risi Competizione Ferrari team has scored GT2 class victories at Le Mans in each of the past two years.

They also have claimed the GT2 wins in the 2009 and 2010 12 Hours of Sebring and the 2008 and 2009 runnings of the fall classic, Petit Le Mans.  That is a string of six wins in the last six premier international races.

Ironically, Ferrari was all but gone from the American Le Mans Series scene when the F430 GT was launched in 2006.

Giuseppe Risi’s connections with Ferrari go back to the late “Commandatore” Enzo Ferrari himself. A prominent Ferrari dealer and racer, the factory offered Risi cars and factory drivers for a 2006 ALMS campaign. 

There was just one problem. Risi insisted that he wanted to race with Michelin tires. 

The factory had an agreement with another tire maker. Allowing Risi to race with Michelin would mean that data and set-ups would not be fully relevant between his team and Ferraris racing in other series. 

That was not the end.  There was a significant budget issue. Risi and Ferrari would have to pay for the Michelin tires while the others were free. 

Risi was unwavering. “I told them, keep your cars, I cannot win without Michelin.”

The Ferrari factory relented. Risi could race with Michelin. After 2007 ALMS championships and six consecutive major wins they are probably glad that they did.

After setting the fastest GT2 class time in qualifying forthis yeqar’s race, the Risi Ferrari times were deleted due to a rear wing setting. They will start the 24 Hours race from the back of the field. 

Driving through the rugged 17-car GT2 field that includes factory entries from Porsche, Corvette, BMW, and Jaguar to claim a third consecutive victory would make a third consecutive win truly remarkable, almost as remarkable as winning six major events in succession, or convincing the factory to change tires.

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