Risi Competizione ready for Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park

The No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari Team is ready and enthusiastic for a return to New England for this weekend's Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn., July 22-23.

The popular Houston, Texas-based Ferrari team will compete in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTLM class against all factory two-car teams, including those fielded by Porsche, BMW, Corvette and Ford. The two hours and 40-minute sprint race, Round 8 of the 2016 WeatherTech season and Round 7 for the GTLM class, will also feature Prototype Challenge (PC) and GT Daytona (GTD) class cars around the 1.474-mile, seven turn road course.

Risi Competizione is returning to race in the scenic Berkshire Mountains this year for the 11th time since 2000 and with drivers Italian Giancarlo Fisichella and Finn Toni Vilander. In the past ten years and 14 attempts, as some years the team fielded two-car efforts, Risi drivers have stood on the podium a total of five times. Podium results including third place in their first attempt in 2000 in the Ferrari 33 SP, a victory in 2004 in the Ferrari 360 Modena, a pair of thirds in 2007 and 2008 with the Ferrari 430 GT and another third in 2009 with the Ferrari 430 GT2. The last time Risi Competizione competed at Lime Rock was in 2013 with the Ferrari 458 Italia.

Former Formula 1 ace Fisichella will be making his first appearance at the New England circuit. Teammate and fellow Ferrari factory driver, Toni Vilander, has competed twice, in 2006, where he collected the pole position in a Ferrari 430, and again in 2011 in the Ferrari 458 GT2. Both efforts were with the Risi Competizione team.

Rick Mayer, Risi Competizione Race Engineer:

IMSA has changed the BoP for the GTLM class since Mosport.  Please share your thoughts about the changes.
"They gave the Ferrari a very small boost increase (1.5%), we were hoping for double that increase. Our biggest deficit this season is lack of power. We also got 2 liters of fuel and a larger fuel flow restrictor to try and even out the fill times between the makes in the class. BMW got a small power reduction and Porsche got some weight to compensate for their Michelin tire change. The real test for these changes will be Road America as that's a power track. The changes were in the right direction, we'll have to wait and see if it's enough of a change."

The Lime Rock circuit is very short at only 1.5 miles and relatively oval shaped with 7 turns. How much will traffic play a role in the race outcome?
"Traffic is always a problem at Lime Rock. Thirty plus cars will be nearly constant traffic in the race. But that can be good and bad. There 'could' be several cautions in the race but in 2013 there was only two cautions with a similar car count. The chicane historically gets a lot of contact, as faster cars want to clear slower cars or slower classes before this to not get held up."

Obviously getting the setup correct early is an important factor at this race. How will you go about that?
"We've been here several times, but not since 2013. We're going over our setup notes and we'll put a combination of what we've learned this year with what this track historically prefers. Let's hope we get some dry running in the two one-hour practice sessions to work on the setup.

Toni has competed at Lime Rock a couple of times but it will be new to Giancarlo. How will you and Toni get him up to speed quickly with the limited track time?
"We'll have Toni do some setup work early, weather dependent of course and then once he's happy we'll have Giancarlo get acclimated. It's not a difficult track with only 7 corners. He should get there quickly."

How much will tires play a role in this race?
"'If' we get any total green stints in the race, they will play a large roll. The 2013 race only had two cautions and the first caution was after the first stint played out. You need to be able to run 60 laps plus qualifying laps on your first stint. That will really work the tires here, and with such a short lap (about 51 seconds) a green pit stop will put you down a lap."

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

Lime Rock is a new circuit for you. Firstly, you've driven many circuits around the world. Is it fun for you to get to race on a brand new circuit? Secondly, how will you go about learning the new configuration quickly?
"Lime Rock is a new circuit. I'm looking forward to it because it is always nice to discover a new one. It is a small circuit, around 50 something seconds per lap. I think it is quicker to learn, but that doesn't mean easy. It's a tough circuit with a couple of quick corner. I believe it is a nice circuit to drive. Think we can be competitive there especially with new BoP changes with us being allowed more power. I am looking forward to being competitive and scoring good results."

This weekend's race will feature only the PC, GTLM and GTD classes. How will the dynamic of the race be different without the DP cars?
"It's going to be different without the prototypes overtaking. We can concentrate more on driving the car and visibility forward and not as much on rear camera and behind us. The PCs will be quickest and will catch us but it will be easier than the normal races with all four classes. I think it will be better."

With a short 2-day race weekend, obviously set up is important. How well does the Risi team work to find the best set up in a short amount of time?
"We have just 2 hours on Friday and warm-up on Saturday morning to set up the car. The good thing is that I am working very well with Toni. He's a nice guy, has lots of experience and we have the same driving style. We like the car set up the same and we have a good engineer, Rick Mayer. With him we always find a good compromise with car balance and set up and I hope to find it for this weekend as well."

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

You've competed at Lime Rock before but it's been paved since. What are your thoughts about the circuit and expectations for this weekend?
"It is quite a short lap and everything can happen. We will try to do our maximum and hopefully we are a bit more competitive than in Mosport."

This weekend's race will feature only the PC, GTLM and GTD classes. How will the dynamic of the race be different without the DP cars?
"It will not be much different. A short lap will make it very busy and interesting."

How difficult is it to pass on the short Lime Rock circuit and which are the best areas?
"It is very difficult to overtake. You need to have a good run from last corner towards Turn 1. Braking into Turn 1 is the best place to overtake.  I also like the last two corners, which are quite fast."

Practice for the Northeast Grand Prix begins on Friday, July 22 at 11:10 a.m. EDT for an hour and again that afternoon from 2:05-3:05 p.m. Qualifying is Friday afternoon commencing at 4:35 p.m. EDT. The 2hr40 minute WeatherTech race will start at 3:05 p.m. EDT on Saturday, July 23 after a 20-minute warm-up earlier Saturday morning. Live timing and scoring is available for all on-track sessions at IMSA.com and the IMSA Smartphone app.

Risi Competizione Press Release