Ferrari: Risi Competizione Team Claims GT Victory at Road America, First Victory for 458 Italia Model in ALMS
American Le Mans, meet the Ferrari 458 Italia.
The legendary Italian company’s new GT challenger for 2011 snatched a huge victory for Oakley-sponsored Ferrari Team Rizi Competizione last month at Road America in Wisconsin, dazzling both the crowd and Ferrari executives on hand to witness its first win in ALMS.
Following an intense four hour, 101 lap round of racing, it was the Rosso Red Ferrari with Jaime Melo and Toni Vilander that emerged on top – edging two BMW’s driven by Bill/Auberlen/Dirk Werner and Oakley’s Dirk Muller/Joey Hand.
The hot new challenger from Maranello has been clawing its way into the mix over amazing competition – now sealing the deal for the team’s 21st overall series win. All in front of Ing Amedeo Felisa, CEO of Ferrari SpA and Marco Mattiacci, president and CEO of Ferrari North America.
“Today is probably one of the crowning moments of Risi Competizione.” Said Giuseppe Risi, team principal for Team Risi Competizione. “For us to be able to give the F458 its first victory in the US is wonderful. We’ve been close but this was really exceptional. The team did a fantastic job; the drivers were both outstanding and Jaime Melo demonstrated clearly just what an incredible driver he is, while Toni was superb during his stint. At the last pit stop, the crew was unbelievable. All our calculations turned out perfectly and the tire change was amazing. It was a great day for us.”
The fact that Ferrari’s heavy hitters were on hand on US soil added even more joy to the occasion.
“The other crowning moment is that the Ferrari 458 is Ing. Felisa’s ‘baby’, so to speak, as he has taken a special interest in its development,” Giuseppe continued. “For he and Marco to witness this car win for the first time in the US, which also happens to be the biggest market for Ferrari, is very special. Ing. Felisa came here specially from California, disturbing his holiday to do so, so this is all one very happy Ferrari family.”
Getting there was no walk in the park.
Jaime and Toni charged through ultra-pressurized situations – eventually sealing the triumph in the pits at the last round of stops and under the fourth caution period. The crew executed so flawlessly, in fact, that Jamie flew out of the pits comfortably ahead of the closest BMW – even padding his lead to close out the event.
“It’s been a tough year for us as we have had many problems with the car at the beginning of the season, but we finally got the win which is really important for us and for Ferrari,” Jaime said, rocking his Oakley gloves, boots and fire suit. “It’s also important for this new model and it won’t be the last one. It just proves we must focus and never give up.”
Congratulations to Jaime, Toni and Risi Competizione for the victory!