Risi Competizione team brings Le Mans podium finishing car to Watkins Glen

The Risi Competizione Team, who finished second at the recent 24 Hours of Le Mans, worked tirelessly to get the team and car back to the U.S. for this week's Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen race, July 1-3, at Watkins Glen International.

Risi Comp's IMSA full-season drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Toni Vilander paired with former Risi driver Matteo Mallucelli to finish second at the 84th annual 24 Hours of Le Mans, June 18-19. The team led much of the race in the GTE-Pro class and, once again, fought mightily against major factory-backed teams.

The return to The Glen for the IMSA (International Motor Sports Association) WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Series six-hour race was an immediate task the team took on as circumstances prevented them from prepping the Ferrari 488 at Le Mans post-race. This week has been focused on  pre-race preparation as we head into the race weekend.

The 3.40-mile/5.43-kilometer, 11-turn road course in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State is a favorite for many drivers. Risi Competizione has competed at The Glen before and has two victories and five podiums in a total of five years and seven entries. Although the fan favorite Houston, Texas-based team may not have a long history at the historic circuit, the team's successes speak for themselves.

Italian Giancarlo Fisichella will be making his third appearance at Watkins Glen International, with his past two performances in 2014 and 2015 in the Ferrari 458 with Risi Competizione. Finn Toni Vilander has only had one race at the circuit, in 2013 with AIM Autosport in the Ferrari 458 Italia GT2.

Rick Mayer, Risi Competizione Race Engineer:

You had to send the car directly from France to NY for this week's race. How did/do you go about preparing for the race with a quick international turnaround like that?
"The crew will do all the race prep work at Watkins Glen starting on Monday evening, including changing the engine, which takes a full day. We were planning on doing some prep at Le Mans on Monday after the race but the post-race tech continued until 4:00 pm Monday and the freight had to ship out Tuesday. "

The Watkins Glen circuit has been repaved since last year. How do you expect this will change your data from previous years?
"I've been told its very smooth now and some of the curbing is different in the inner loop portion. We should be ok if we get at least one dry session."

How well suited do you think the Ferrari 488 is for the Watkins Glen circuit?
"We are hoping it will suit it well. Last year's race was wet and the previous year we weren't very competitive. We'll have to see where the BoP (Balance of Performance) is for us at Watkins this year. We know we are a bit down on straight line speed which is important here. "

Giancarlo Fisichella, driver, No. 62 Ferrari 488 GTLM:

After finishing on the podium at Le Mans what did you do to celebrate and then relax afterwards?

"It was a great race. It would have been different if we could have won the race. After the race we really just were recovering and relaxing. We were very pleased with our race, the crew, and with Toni and Matteo who did a fantastic job as well."

This year will be your third visit to Watkins Glen after competing the past two season in the Ferrari 458. How do you like the circuit and what's your favorite part?

"It's a great circuit, one of my favorites, and I am looking forward to this weekend.  Last year wasn't a great race. We hope this year it will be dry and we find a good set up and fight for the podium. There are lots of nice turn like Turn 1, and other very nice, different corners. It is a challenging circuit.

How difficult is it to pass at The Glen?

"It is difficult everywhere we race. There are a couple of places you can overtake but not easy. It is s tough circuit. You need to do a good corner before the long straight and try to get into the braking point into Turn 1 to get a good pass."

Toni Vilander, driver, No. 62 Ferrari 488 GTLM:

After finishing on the podium at Le Mans what did you do to celebrate and then relax afterwards?
"I had no real celebration. I just felt a bit tired and I wanted to spend some time with the family. I was really happy for the team. It was a great effort, but still I wanted to win the race. I gave everything."

This year will be your second visit to Watkins Glen after competing in 2013 in the Ferrari 458. How did you like the circuit and how do you think it will suite the Ferrari 488?

"I really enjoyed the track. I think it should be a good for our car; fast corners and an overall challenging race track. There are a lot of fast corners that should suit our 488."

Rain is often a factor at The Glen. How does wet weather change the dynamic of the IMSA races? And how specifically would it change it at Watkins Glen? 

"I don't want it to rain. I'm hoping for a dry race. But we will take whatever the weather will be and try our maximum effort."

Practice for the IMSA Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen series weekend begins at 11:25 a.m. EDT on Friday, July 1 for all classes, and again that afternoon from 3:20-4:20 p.m. Practice 3 is scheduled for Saturday morning from 10:15-11:15 a.m. EDT with qualifying later that afternoon beginning at 4:05 p.m. EDT. The6-hour race will be held from   10:10 a.m.-4:10 p.m. EDT on Sunday, July 3. Live timing and scoring is available for all on-track sessions at IMSA.com and the IMSA Smartphone app.

Risi Competizione Press Release