The No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTLM of drivers Giancarlo Fisichella, Toni Vilander and grabbed another podium finish in the final race for the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season in today’s Petit Le Mans race.
The trio finished third in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class and ninth overall at the 20th Anniversary Motul Petit Le Mans. Italian Pier Guidi, making his first drive with the popular American Ferrari team from Houston, Texas, seized the fastest lap of the GTLM class and set a new track record with a time of 1:18.431 on lap 279. He narrowly beat out his teammate and fellow Ferrari countryman, Fisichella, by four tenths of a second just 45 laps later.
Qualifying and starting driver Vilander had captured the pole and started first on the grid in the GTLM class under somewhat foggy and damp race conditions at the 11:05 a.m. EDT race starting time.
Having started on wet tires, Vilander lost a few spots early but soon pitted for slicks [tires]. He turned the Rosso Corsa (racing red) Ferrari over to former Formula One ace Fisichella on Lap 50 just before the second of 14 cautions of the 10-hour race.
The Risi drivers cycled through the rotations and elevated as high as first in class and dropped as low as ninth after Fisichella received a stop and go penalty for speeding in the pits during his second driver rotation, on Lap 225.
At the halfway point of the race the Risi Competizione Ferrari was leading the GTLM class and ninth overall with five hours to go.
The Risi Competizione team performed their usual and legendary strong pit stops, managing to beat their competitors out of the pits every pit stop.
The GTLM Petit Le Mans winners were the No. 25 BMW team, followed by the No. 3 Corvette team.
The Risi Competizione team won their fifth Dekra Green Challenge Award (Rolex 24 at Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring, VIR, Laguna Seca, Road Atlanta) and their 14th overall since its inception in 2015. The award is determined through green racing protocols set by the U.S. Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Society of Automotive Engineers International as part of their alliance with IMSA for pit stop efficiency, race pace and most efficient fuel usage.
Toni Vilander, driver, No. 62 Ferrari 488 GTLM:
“In qualifying we showed our pace, we showed our potential. As always, magically, others find a little more speed. It was especially a struggle coming out of [turn] seven and the whole back straight. That compromised our race a little bit. At the beginning of the stints we were strong, and then struggled a little bit towards the end. It was a hard day in the office. At one point we were leading, looking really good, then we dropped down to P8 or P9 and we thought more or less the race was over with about four hours to go. We kept going. Alessandro did a really good job. He fit into the team really well. It’s nice to finish on the podium. It would have been nice to be P1, but now let’s see what happens in the off season. Hopefully we are on the grid in Daytona again. At the moment I cannot confirm that, but hopefully things work out that way.
Giancarlo Fisichella, driver, No. 62 Ferrari 488 GTLM:
“Third podium in a row in the last three races isn’t too bad. It’s a bit of a shame because we had a stop and go and we lost the first position. The pace at the end was a bit difficult compared to the leaders, but without the stop and go maybe it would be a different race. I didn’t gain anything when I got the penalty and it’s a shame. It’s a good result, but it’s not what we expected, especially after the victory last year.”
Alessandro Pier Guidi, driver, No. 62 Ferrari 488 GTLM:
“I’m pretty happy to be on the podium with my first experience with Risi Competizione. I think we did an amazing job. Ferrari gave us a great car. I think we missed a bit with the BOP (balance of performance) to fight at the end, but anyway we were close. I think a podium at Petit Le Mans is a great thing and we try again next time.”
Rick Mayer, Risi Competizione Race Engineer:
“It was a bit of a roller coaster race. We had what we thought was a good car, but it was very tight in the race as other cars found some pace in the race. In the end, we came in third, which I think was a good result actually, although I think we could do better potentially, but that just wasn’t going to happen today. So we’re happy with that, we finished the Petit race and we finished on the podium.”
Dave ‘Beaky’ Sims, Risi Competizione Team Manager:
“What a day! At the start we were languishing a little bit, but we picked the speed up. Pit stops were immaculate and got us right up there and eventually in the lead for a long time, P1. Unfortunately, we got a penalty which put us back to P8 which didn’t look to good at that point, but again the pit stops got us back up there and the drivers really put on a good show. The whole team worked together well and it was really pleasing to see it. Here we are at the podium. It adds another podium this year. Every time we finished a race this year it was on the podium, which is a nice statistic. We also won the Dekra award again, which is very good and just proves how efficient we are in what we do to win that again. We won that five times this year as well.”