Risi Competizione leads GTLM at halfway point of Petit Le Mans

Risi Competizione leads GTLM at halfway point of Petit Le Mans

08.10.2017: ....at Road Atlanta Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTLM No. 62: Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA), Toni Vilander (FIN), Alessandro

....at Road Atlanta

Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTLM No. 62:
Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA), Toni Vilander (FIN), Alessandro Pier Guidi (ITA)

The No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTLM of drivers Giancarlo Fisichella, Toni Vilander and Alessandro Pier Guidi are leading the GTLM class at the halfway point of the 20th anniversary Motul Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in North Georgia.

Although the Houston, Tx.-based Ferrari team started from the pole position for today's 10-hour race, it has not been an easy race. Polesitter Toni Vilander, of Finland, went out on rain tires for the 11:05 a.m. race start after a drizzle of rain just prior. With a drying track, he lost positions early and pitted on Lap 6 for rain slicks [tires].

The Risi Competizione team cycled through the driver rotation of Vilander to Fisichella to Pier Guidi, running mainly double stints, depending on the many cautions.

They had fallen back as far and P8 after pit stop shuffles but on Lap 183, just nine minutes before the halfway point and after a pit stop/driver change from Vilander to Fisichella, the Italian from Rome passed both the No. 25 BMW and the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR to take the top spot.

Today at Road Atlanta the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 team earned its second consecutive GTLM pole position in 2017 as it looks to repeat a victory at the 20th running of the prestigious Motul Petit Le Mans on Saturday.

 Finnish driver Toni Vilander claimed the pole for the popular Ferrari team with a best of lap of 1:17:660 seconds at the 2.54-mile, 12-turn road course northeast of Atlanta. The race is the final event in the 2017 International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

Vilander turned in the pole lap time on the seventh of nine laps completed by the Prancing Horse team during the 15-minute qualifying session. Vilander will begin the 10-hour endurance race, also the final of four stops on the Patron North American Endurance Cup, before handing over the reins to Italian teammate Giancarlo Fisichella and his Italian countryman Alessandro Pier Guidi. The green flag is scheduled to fly at 11:05 a.m. ET on Saturday, October 7.

Risi's most recent pole came just two weeks ago at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, and the popular team from Houston, Texas last claimed victory at Petit Le Mans last year.

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

"We started on wet tires. It was a clean start and I managed to keep the lead for a few laps, but the balance was not optimum and one of the Corvettes overtook me. I think then we were one of the first cars to pit in GTLM for slick tires which was a really good call from the pits. The car was handling pretty well when I was alone on slicks. Then we had the full course yellow.

 It was really awkward, several seconds before my team told me the green, the white BMW, I think, overtook me and the Corvette as well, and it is my understanding we were definitely not green. One lap after he let the Corvette pass and he didn't let me by. Apart from that, I stayed behind the other Corvette and remained in P4. In traffic or behind other cars, traffic is difficult.

Alone, I'm predicting it will be better.We're struggling with top speed. It seems like others have more speed in the race. We had an issue with the door in the first pit stop and we lost a couple of seconds. Maybe we pitted just in time, before the first yellow. Hopefully the balance will get a little bit better so we will be there to fight in the end."

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

"The stint was fine. We had an issue with the door at the pit stop and we lost some positions. We don't really have straight line speed and the tires wear quickly, especially at the end of the stint.

The car is not as good as yesterday. The circuit was pretty green at the start [of the race] but now it should be better and continue to get better later."

Alessandro Pier Guidi, driver, No. 62 Ferrari 488 GTLM:

"The stint was pretty good. I was really quick with the car; the problem was the lapped car. There was a car ten laps behind that wouldn't let me by. With this BoP (balance of performance) we struggle because we're lower in the straights than the others and overtaking at this track is almost impossible. You have to use the mistake of the other drivers [to pass], but they don't do that a lot.

It's very frustrating to stay behind and be quicker or stay behind a lapped car and loose time there. Either way it is early. We have time and every time the team is gaining seconds in the pitstops. I'm confident we can come back at the end."

Toni Vilander, driver, No. 62 Ferrari 488 GTLM (after second stints):

"I was stuck in traffic, but the track is improving and the car feels a bit better. We're still lacking some top speed, but apart from that it looks a bit more positive than in the start of the race.

Giancarlo just did two really nice over taking maneuvers and we're in the lead now. It's really good but still a long way to go and hopefully the track continues to improve because it's been better for us, so we'll see how it goes."

The Motul Petit Le Mans race runs for 10 hours, until 9:05 p.m. EDT. Live timing and scoring is available at IMSA.com and the IMSA Smartphone app.

Tune-In Information:

The race is being broadcast live in the United States on FOX Sports 1 (FS1), beginning again at 5:00 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. EDT.

You can also listen to it on radiolemans.com or imsa.tv. The race will be streamed live in its entirety for international audiences on IMSA.tv and the IMSA Mobile app.

Barbara J. Burns - photos RISI

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/risi-competizione-leads-gtlm-halfway-petit-le-mans---169072.html

08.10.2017 / MaP

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