The Red Streak
The Red Streak
One of the most successful teams in the American Le Mans Series history, Risi Competizione, finds itself in a familiar cycle – and may reach a key milepost here at Mid-Ohio. Top international racing cars typically see a three-to seven-year lifecycle.
It starts as the manufacturer designs and produces new cars. The cars are tested, developed and refined in competition, until a peak level of competitive performance is achieved. In later years, updates keep the car competitive.
The manufacturer then designs and produces a new car and repeats the cycle. For the Houston-based Risi squad, the path is familiar ground. When Risi introduced the Ferrari 430 GT in ALMS competition in March 2006 at the Twelve Hours of Sebring, it showed flashes of speed. Sure enough, Risi took the pole at two subsequent races.
At Salt Lake City, the fifth race of the 2006 season, the Risi’s 430 GT started from the rear of the field, took the lead midway through the first hour and claimed the victory.
They did it again at Portland, followed by wins at Mosport and Laguna Seca.
In 2007, the Risi team claimed nine poles and six race wins in 12 races to capture the ALMS team and manufacturer championships. It was the first major American series championship for Ferrari.
That set the stage for “The Red Streak,” in which Risi claimed victory at six straight major endurance races. It began with a victory at 2008 24 Hours of Le Mans and was followed by victories at 2008 Petit Le Mans; 2009 Sebring, Le Mans; and Petit Le Mans and another win at 2010 Sebring.
In 2011 the cycle has begun anew with the stunning 458 Italia against exceptionally strong competition. BMW reeled off victories at Sebring, Long Beach and Lime Rock to open the season. Corvette Racing has wins at last season’s Petit Le Mans, the 2011 24 Hours of Le Mans and the recent Mosport ALMS.
Still, progress in the development of the new Ferrari is unmistakable. Drivers Jaime Melo and Toni Vilander have already scored the first major international win for the new 458 Italia, taking the Imola round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup.
They finished second in ALMS at Mosport after closing down a ten-second gap. Historians may note that Mid-Ohio is the fifth race of the 2011 ALMS season. A win here would match the Ferrari 430 GT cycle.