Risi – the dragon slayers!
Risi – the dragon slayers!
When the big two-car GTLM factory teams roll to the grid here at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca they will be watching each other and keeping an especially close eye on the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari.
Factory linked, but proudly independent, the Houston based single car Risi team has given the factory teams from BMW Team RLL, Corvette Racing and Porsche North America all they can handle and sometimes more in recent competition.
With two wins and three second place finishes in the past eight TUDOR United SportsCar Championship races, including runner-up finishes in the two most recent stops at Sebring and Long Beach, you can sense the momentum building in the Risi paddock.
Team principal Giuseppe Risi, the legendary Dave Sims, technical director Rick Mayer and an experienced and passionate crew, have long made the squad the benchmark for independent teams in international sports car competition.
Now, the strong leadership and technical side of the Risi team and the successful blending of the latest driver combination of Giancarlo Fisichella and Pierre Kaffer has aroused the Ferrari faithful and proven that independent teams can still win in one of the toughest classes in racing.
The most recent piece of the puzzle, Kaffer, age 38, the 2010 International GT Open Champion, was born in Germany and currently resides in Switzerland. His resume includes stints in ALMS, DTM, International GT Open and FIA World Endurance Championship.
He also has a victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2009 with a Risi Ferrari co-driving with Mika Salo and Jaime Melo. Kaffer also has LMP1 victories at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and here at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
The Risi Record:
24: American Le Mans Series and TUDOR Championship Wins
3: 24 Hours of Le Mans Wins
2: Team Championships
1: Driver Championships
1: Manufacturer Championships
3: Twelve Hours of Sebring Wins
2: Petit Le Mans Wins
2: Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Wins
On co-driving with Giancarlo Fisichella:
“Giancarlo is one of my best teammates ever. We are a good team. The communication and the way we work together are quite good. Giancarlo and I are the same height; we use the same seat, the same pedal and steering wheel positions. We even have the same size shoes!
“Our driving styles are very similar. We communicate very well and we trust each other. We do not fight over who qualifies or who is in the car at the start or the finish. We are a big family. We trust each other. With a teammate like Giancarlo it makes it much easier to be successful.”
On how does a one car, semi-independent team from Houston, post such a record of success against the powerful two-car full factory teams:
“I do not think it is an advantage to be a one car team. With two cars you can always collect more data. Sometimes it is very difficult for us at a race.
“In terms of advantages, everyone is concentrated on one car. We are all focused. It would be nice to have two cars and may be a little better for the budget. I have to thank Giuseppe (Risi) for his patience. We are like a big family together. It is not easy to be a single car team racing against the big, two-car factory teams.”
On Racing in America:
“I love to race in America, especially with Giuseppe Risi, the Risi Competizione team and Giancarlo. It is a dream to be part of a team like this when everything is working well. The team went through a very difficult time early last year and now everyone appreciates the success.
“It takes a long time to get a team to this stage, when you have it all together. Things were rough for the team early last year and when I came in it wasn’t easy to get everyone’s trust.
“The GTLM class is the highest competition today in the world. Everything needs to be perfect to win and the race is never done until you finish.”
On Racing at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca:
“Laguna Seca is unique. Everyone in the world knows Laguna Seca and The Corkscrew.
“I won in LMP1 at Laguna Seca with Audi in 2004. Last year, we almost won here, but we caught traffic late in the race and finished third.
“I am really looking forward to being back at Laguna Seca.”