There is no way to describe the disappointment experienced in the closing laps of the Continental Road Race Showcase race at Road America by the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari Team of driver Giancarlo Fisichella and Toni Vilander. Just two laps from the finish of the two hours and 40-minute race Vilander was touched by a Prototype car, just after the final restart in turn 1 and spun out of contention.
The team was hoping they would be celebrating their first victory of the 2016 International Motor Sport Association (IMSA) WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season, but instead their chance was taken away. Although a fifth-place class finish would normally be an acceptable finish in the very competitive WeatherTech racing series, somehow today's Top Five lost its lustre after an extremely strong run by the Risi Team.
The popular Houston, Texas-based Ferrari team started from the third position on the grid after an infraction sent one of the higher qualifying GTLM cars to the back of the grid. Italian Fisichella was the qualifying and starting driver for the Risi Competizione team in the 41-car field. He quickly moved into second place on the first turn after the start. The first of three full course cautions was displayed on Lap 7. On the restart on Lap 10, Fisichella's late braking lost him one spot but he soon earned that back and then made a pass for the lead on Lap 18.
A full pit stop on Lap 26 for tires, fuel and driver change to Finish Ferrari ace Vilander came, under green, just before the second full course caution of the day. Vilander was working his way up from third in class to second when he pitted for his last stop for tires and fuel on Lap 49. A third caution flag was waved on Lap 53 while still in second place in class. The race went green, two laps from the end of the race. Vilander battled the leading No. 67 Ford GT and the trailing No. 912 Porsche 911 GT3R on the final restart. Vilander was making his move on the Ford, which was beginning to lose speed, when he was turned out by a Prototype and spun. He was able to establish himself back on track quickly and finish fifth in GTLM and 17th overall.
The Risi Competizione team was awarded its fourth DEKRA Green Challenge Award of the season. The fuel efficient award was previously presented at Sebring, Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, and most recently at Lime Rock Park.
Rick Mayer, Risi Competizione Race Engineer:
The race went right down to the wire. We got turned around by the prototype. Not sure why that happened. Obviously, we were fighting for the lead. That's very unfortunate, but sometimes that's the way racing is. We had a relatively good car. We had an odd balance shift between the used qualifying tires and stickers, but Toni was able to adapt and he did a good job. We were just waiting for that last restart to give it a go and it just didn't work out. So, we'll head home and get ready for VIR and are looking forward to that race.
Giancarlo Fisichella, qualifying and starting driver, No. 62 Ferrari 488 GTLM:
What a shame. It's very frustrating. We had a fantastic race. Everybody did a fantastic job. Unfortunately, the other car took Toni off and we lost our second position and possibly first. But, anyway, that's life in racing sometimes.
Toni Vilander, driver, No. 62 Ferrari 488 GTLM:
It was a good race. Unfortunately, at the end and from what I understand is that the prototype that was 5th in his category took me out in the turn one. I was fighting with [Richard] Westbrook. The racing level in the class overall is really high. I had a good pace and the car was good and I think today we had another chance for the win and it didn't go that way.
Dave Sims, Team Manager, No. 62 Ferrari 488 GTLM:
This is our fourth DEKRA Award this year, after winning four last season and I think we're going to need another trophy case if we keep winning them. Once again, it's a tribute to the Ferrari and it's fuel efficiency, along with the team's excellent pit work.
The next race for the Risi Competizione Ferrari team is Round 10 of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Round 9 of the GTLM class, at the Michelin GT Challenge at Virginia International Raceway on August 26-28 in Alton, Va.
Risi Competizione Press Release