Risi Ferrari returns to American Le Mans Series
North America’s most successful Ferrari GT team, Risi Competizione, is returning to competition after a hiatus in 2012. The Houston, Texas-based team will enter one Ferrari 458 Italia GT in the GT class of the 2013 American Le Mans Series.
|Risi Ferrari in 2011|
Until the conclusion of the 2011 season, Risi Competizione, racing a string of Ferrari 360, 430, and 458 GTs, had been a decade-long stalwart of the series but the shifting ground of GT racing in American convinced Giuseppe Risi to suspend his racing program for 12 months as standards, classes and specifications were settle for future racing events and programs. During that time period, the ALMS and Grand Am reached an agreement to merge, with the merger taking full effect in 2014. Risi Competizione did just one event in 2012, a collaboration with a Ferrari collective, American Canadian Racing, at the Rolex Daytona 24, to gain a better understanding of the competitive environment in Grand-Am racing, information that will be vital as the two series become one in 2014.
The Houston-based team now feels that the time is right for a return to racing and Team Principal Giuseppe Risi has been re-defining and refining his team ready for that moment. “We are embarking on a two-year program as we return to racing. This year, we will race in ALMS alone, where we have enjoyed great success. In 2014, we will race in the merged series under the new class structure. We are excited about the prospects and the program, and are actively ramping up the team for 2013.”
Long-time Risi race engineer Rick Mayer will be picking up the mantle once again on the technical side, and is currently in Italy overseeing the build of Risi’s new F458 at Michelotto Automobili, Ferrari’s official GT technical partner.
The engineer was an integral part of two ALMS Championship-winning titles and two class wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans as well as numerous other race victories for Risi Competizione with both the F360 and the F430 models.
Mayer will be joined in 2013 by a new face at Risi, but not a new name. Mark Sims, son of team manager David Sims, will be taking up a full-time position in Houston as Chief Mechanic. The 39-year-old relocates to the USA after a career in GP2, GP3 and World Series by Renault as chief mechanic for one of open-wheel’s most successful junior teams. He brings a state-of-the-art, racing mechanical perspective to team operations.
Giuseppe Risi is enthusiastic about what lies ahead in 2013 and the future: “As I’ve said in the past, to race a Ferrari is to enter into a partnership with history and legend; the standards are so high that commitment must be total and complete. The exact same thing can be said of the American Le Mans Series GT class, which I still believe has the best level of GT competition in the world. We very much look forward to competing again with our old friends and rivals at BMW, Corvette, Extreme Speed Ferrari and Porsche, as well as some faces that may be new to us.
“Having watched the developments for the future of sports car racing in North America from the side-lines in 2012, I believe that now is the right time to return to competition. We know what to expect in 2013 and in 2014. We’ve done our research on and off the track. I have every reason to believe that we will be very competitive,” said Risi.
To date, the team has won two ALMS championships, taken three class victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, achieved 20 outright American Le Mans Series class wins and 30 plus further podium finishes. It has won the Twelve Hours of Sebring three times including the closest finish in the race’s history in 2007.