jeudi 16 mars 2017

Risi Competizione positive about continuing endurance race success at Sebring


The No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTLM team is eager to return to Sebring, Florida for the 65th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida race, March 16-18, 2017.

The popular Houston, Texas-based Risi Competizione team has a vast history at Sebring that includes three victories (in 2007, 2009, 2010) and four additional podiums (2006, 2008, 2013, 2015) in 14 years and 19 entries since 1998.

The formidable trio of Giancarlo Fisichella (Italy), Toni Vilander (Finland), and James Calado (Great Britain) have proven their endurance success in the  International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) WeatherTech SportsCar Championship series, with a victory at the 2016 season finale at Petit Le Mans and a third-place finish at this year's 24 Hours of Daytona.

During this 70th year of the Prancing Horse, Risi Competizione looks to continue their winning ways around the 3.74-mile, 17-turn central-Florida circuit. Round two of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship series will see the 465-horsepower Ferrari of Fisichella, Vilander and Calado, backed by the powerful Risi crew, who are proud to go up against the GTLM class factory teams of Porsche, Corvette, BMW and Ford any day of the week.

Former Formula 1 star Giancarlo Fisichella will be making his sixth race appearance at Sebring and fourth entry with Risi Competizione. His best finish was in 2015 for second place in the GTLM class.

Toni Vilander, the Finnish Ferrari factory driver, will make his fourth appearance at Sebring. He previously drove with Risi Competizione in 2011 and 2016 and has a best finish last year with Risi with a fourth-place class finish.

Brit James Calado will be making his inaugural run at Sebring. He and Vilander participated in the 2017 official Sebring Test Days in late February.


Rick Mayer, Risi Competizione Race Engineer:

How did the recent Sebring Test go and how has that been able to prepare the team for the 12 Hour race?

"The test was useful in getting the drivers re-acclimated to Sebring and to work on a base setup. It will make the event week go much smoother. This was also the first time the team was able to use the new fueling system; that practice was valuable."

You have said that Sebring is a team and personal favorite track. What is it that you like so much about Sebring and why?

"It has to be the biggest fan attended sports car race in the USA. The track changes throughout the event and is difficult to predict. The track is one of the most difficult to get a good car setup for. Sebring is rewarding when you can get it right. And a lot of times a favorite track is a track on which you've had a lot of success."

Obviously this year's GTLM competition is tighter than ever. How do you rise above the competition to be a victor at a difficult circuit like Sebring?

"A huge portion you can't control; you need good luck. The drivers need to be so careful to not hurt the car. It's such a fine line to go as fast as you can for 12 hours and also not damage the car in traffic. The competition is so fierce, we'll need a perfect race to win."

The Risi Competizione team is on a roll in the endurance races after a 2nd place finish at Le Mans and victory at Petit Le Mans last year, followed by a third-place finish and leading the race at Daytona this year. What are the goals and expectations for Sebring?

"The goal for every race to is win. We need to be in the mix at the front for the last three hours. The first nine hours are about survival."

Risi Competizione has a rich history at Sebring including three victories (in 2007, 2009, 2010) and four additional podiums (2006, 2008, 2013, 2015) in 14 years and 19 entries since 1998. How can you and your team turn that into further success this year?
"We will just race the best we can and try and stay out of trouble. We are going into Sebring with a competitive BoP (Balance of Performance), but any one of the 10 GTLMs could win this one."


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

You and James were here for the Sebring Test last month. How did it go and what did you learn?

"I think we have a good base set up. We tried several things and we will fine tune during the practice sessions."

The Risi Competizione team is on a roll in the endurance races after a 2nd place finish at Le Mans and victory at Petit Le Mans last year, followed by a third-place finish and leading the race at Daytona this year. What are the goals and expectations for Sebring?

"Of course we want to win the race.  We have the same driver line up as Petit and Daytona of Giancarlo, James and myself. I think we have a good chemistry and that's always important for an endurance race."

Sebring is now somewhat of a new hometown circuit with your American home in nearby Lake Worth. How does Sebring rate in your American circuits playbook?

"Sebring is a track with a lot of history and it's very challenging. It's very satisfying when you get it right and I really enjoy the circuit."

You know the Ferrari 488 GTLM very well and are comfortable with the Risi Competizione team and your driver teammates. How does that translate to success for you?

"I obviously get along with my co-drivers and we have a lot of history. I also have a lot of history with the team and they do a fantastic job on and off the track which is critical for success. I'm very optimistic going into this event."


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

You, Toni and James have turned out to be a pretty formidable driving trio. What's your magic?

"We have worked together. WE all know the car very well. We all get on well and we do many events together for Ferrari."

You are competing in both the IMSA GTLM and the Blancpain series. How do you juggle two major racing championships and go between two different cars and series?

"That will be a bit challenging but there's enough time between the events that I should be able to adapt to the different cars."

Sebring is a very different kind of circuit from the European race tracks you're quite used to. What is the most challenging part of Sebring and what do you like best?

"It's a very bumpy circuit so it is a challenge to get the set up correct with all the different tarmac changes around the track but we've had good cars here in the past. I'm happy with what was done at the test and am looking forward to the race."

Risi Competizione has a rich history at Sebring including three victories (in 2007, 2009, 2010) and four additional podiums (2006, 2008, 2013, 2015) in 14 years and 19 entries since 1998, how can you and your team turn that into success?

"We certainly have had good races here in the past. I think our balance of performance is pretty good now. I think we could have another great result this year and I'm looking forward to the race."


James Calado, driver, No. 62 Ferrari 488 GTLM:
You and Toni were here for the Sebring Test last month. How did it go and what did you learn?
"It went very well. We worked hard with the car and found a good base set up which we have and we can fine tune over the weekend."

Sebring is a new circuit for you and quite different than the European circuits. What did you think of it? What did you like and what was the most challenging?

"It's a great track and extremely challenging. It is an old-style track with concrete in places, so varies corner to corner. The last corner is very tricky and there is a fine line between going quick and going off."

Sebring has a vast history of many great drivers from yesteryear. What do you think about finally being able to compete at such a historic and renown track like Sebring?

"I am very much looking forward to it. It will be my first race here but I am confident everything will be okay."

The Risi Competizione team is on a roll in the endurance races after a second place finish at Le Mans and victory at Petit Le Mans last year, followed by a third-place finish and leading the race at Daytona this year. What are the goals and expectations for Sebring?

"First, of course!"

You, Giancarlo and Toni have turned out to be a pretty formidable driving trio. What's your magic?

"I think we are a good combination of drivers and we know the car very well. We all get on and we drive with similar set ups."

You'll be competing in the WEC Series the rest of the year. Will you miss working with the Risi Competizione team and racing in IMSA?

"Yes, I find IMSA very challenging and I really enjoy racing in the States. I have a busy year with WEC and Blancpain so lots of seat time before coming back!"

The first practice session of the week begins Thursday morning, March 16 at 11:10 a.m. EDT with two additional practice sessions on Thursday and one on Friday, March 17. GTLM class qualifying scheduled for Friday from 1:25-1:40 p.m. EDT. The race starts Saturday, March 18 at 10:40 a.m. EDT for 12 hours. Live timing and scoring is available for all on-track sessions at IMSA.com and the IMSA Smartphone app.

Tune-In Information:

Watch the 65th Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, Saturday, March 18, 10:30 a.m.-11:00 p.m. EDT on IMSA.TV and on the FOX Sports GO app and from 2:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m. on FOX Sports 1. The Twelve Hours of Sebring is also available via a live international broadcast stream on IMSA.tv.

For more information, please go to www.risicompetizione.com and follow us on Facebook/RisiCompetizione and Twitter @RisiComp.

Risi Competizione Press Release