Today's Northeast Grand Prix race at Lime Rock Park was a nail-biter for the entire two hours and 40 minutes. With just three classes (PC, GTLM and GTD) doing battle around the short 1.474-mile, seven turn circuit and lap times under a minute, lead changes in all classes were constant.
The No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTLM started from fourth position in class with qualifying driver Toni Vilander behind the wheel. He had a strong start and was in the second place before the fifth lap. The Risi Competizione team performed a quick pit stop under caution just 30 minutes into the race and Vilander remained the driver. After a good battle with one of the BMWs, he finally took the lead and held it strong.
With ambient temperatures in the mid-90 degrees F, and even hotter in the cockpit, Vilander was glad to relinquish the driving duties to teammate Giancarlo Fisichella after over one hour and 30 minutes in the car and on Lap 95. Another excellent pit stop by the renown Houston, Texas-based Risi Competizione crew allowed Fisichella to maintain the lead, which he did for 37 laps before having a brief off-track excursion due to some track surface anomalies, which allowed one of the Corvettes to take the lead. A couple of laps later he experienced grip issues and went off track. When he came back on the circuit his Ferrari and one of the Ford's touched and Fisichella was sent off track again, losing another two positions, and finishing fourth in the GTLM class.
The Risi Competizione team was awarded the DEKRA Green Challenge Award for the third time this season, after previously being honored at Sebring and the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.
Rick Mayer, Risi Competizione Race Engineer:
We started out pretty well with Toni from the fourth position on the grid. He had a good start and got out front quickly. We had very good pit stops. Toni handed the car to Giancarlo, who had some grip issues later in the race. The track was 130F [degrees] making the grip level low. Unfortunately, it was looking like a win or at least a podium and it ended up being fourth. Our drivers pushed hard, on the edge all race and sometimes things happen. The crew did a fantastic job. They had great pit work. I think we had no issues with the race strategy. Certainly it was not the result we wanted but...we'll go on to Road America where we've had good luck in the past and hope for the best.
Giancarlo Fischella, driver, No. 62 Ferrari 488 GTLM:
It's a shame, we were doing a fantastic race. We had fantastic pit stops. I started to lose grip when the track was really hot, then lost the front end of the car and pushed off slightly in Turn 1. Unfortunately, I lost P1 when I went off. Then I later had some of the same problems and the Ford and I touched and we lost two more position. It was very difficult with the grip level as the race went on. At the beginning of my stint, the pace was very good. We were quick and pulling away. Something changed mid-way through my stint where I lost grip.
Toni Vilander, driver, No. 62 Ferrari 488 GTLM:
The crew did a fantastic job. The pit work definitely kept us up front. I had a really long stint in the car and it was incredibly hot. The last few laps were very difficult The car was good, the Michelin tires worked well and I think we had less fall off in my stints then the others. The result isn't what we deserved but when you push hard sometimes this happens. I'm looking forward to our next race in Road America.
Dave Sims, Team Manager, No. 62 Ferrari 488 GTLM:
It was a disappointing day after being in a situation where we controlled much of the race in P1 [lead] position. Toni did a fantastic job and the crew had a magic pit stop and kept us in P1. We took over with Giancarlo, but unfortunately he had a couple if mishaps which put us back to P4 [fourth]. It was our race to win. It truly was.
We were awarded the DEKRA Award again for the third time this year, so that was a consolation.
The next race for the Risi Competizione Ferrari team is Round 9 of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Round 8 of the GTLM class, at the Continental Road Race Showcase at Road America on August 5-7 in Plymouth, Wisc.
Risi Competizione Press Release