Risi ready to repeat history
Risi ready to repeat history
If history is a teacher and reasonable predictor of the future, the competition and fans should have their eyes on the Risi Competizione team and drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Pierre Kaffer here at Road America.
First – the history. Last year, after a disastrous start to the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, the ultra-successful Houston-based team led by team principal, Giuseppe Risi, regrouped. The team brought in Kaffer to pair with Fisichella and began an impressive march to its more traditional spot near the front of the GTLM class.
But just when it appeared they were poised to reclaim the top spot, disappointment arrived once more as they finished last in the GTLM class at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. The team and drivers were undeterred. They treated that race as a speed bump on the path to victory.
Fisichella claimed the pole and set the fastest race lap on way to a second place finish at Indianapolis. Then he and Kaffer reeled off back-to-back wins at Road America and Virginia International Raceway (VIR).
Which brings us to 2015.
The 2015 TUDOR seems to be following a Noah-inspired approach as wins arrive in pairs in the brutally competitive GTLM class.
Through the first six races, Corvette Racing (Daytona and Sebring), BMW Team RLL (Long Beach and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca) and Porsche (Falken at Watkins Glen International and Porsche North America at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park) have each taken consecutive pairs of wins.
The Risi Ferrari has been in the mix at nearly every event, claiming seconds at Sebring and Long Beach.
And just like last year, the proud Ferrari squad arrives at Road America fresh from a disappointing sixth place finish in the Canadian round of the TUDOR Championship.
The legions of Ferrari fans are ready to see the brilliant red No. 62 Ferrari F458 Italia defend its Road America honors and set up a pair of wins of its own. For that is exactly what the Risi Competizione Ferrari team did at this time last season at Road America and VIR.
Their Ferrari is well suited to the hilly 4.08-mile Road America circuit, but the GTLM class competition is ferociously tight. Fifteen different GTLM drivers claimed the class poles in the first fifteen races of the TUDOR Championship.
Corvette Racing’s Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia hold a slim two point lead over BMW Team RLL’s Bill Auberlen and Dirk Werner in the class driver standings with John Edwards and Lucas Luhr (BMW Team RLL) in third.
The TUDOR standings are slightly different in the GTLM Manufacturer battle with BMW carrying a four point edge over Porsche with Chevrolet six points adrift and Ferrari in fourth. In the TUDOR Team standings, Risi slots in fifth place.
With just four GTLM races left in the 2015 TUDOR , the teams are all in mid-season form. The belts are cinched tight and each team’s collective eyes are fully focused. This is the time of year where championships are won and lost. Teams and manufacturers are making 2016 plans and contracts are being renewed or, perhaps, not.
Drivers like Fisichella and Kaffer welcome the challenges of a high speed, high commitment circuit and the opportunity to measure themselves against the competition on an unspoiled, character filled track that rewards talent and commands respect.
At Risi Competizione, the mission is simple. Win. There are no team orders for an independent single car team taking on the might of the bigger factory squads.
In a world of racing where every team has outstanding technology and meticulous preparation, where the drivers are all highly skilled and the crews are often flawless, there is still a place for passion.
“We are an Italian racing team,” a Risi Ferrari insider often notes, and you appreciate how important that identity, pride and culture are to the team’s record of success.
This is an exceptional team with three victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and wins at the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Twelve Hours of Sebring and Petit Le Mans. And Road America.
History is often made, and sometimes repeated, by a group of people with such talent and passion. That is why those who know their history will be watching the reddest of all Ferraris.