Maranello, 21 August – An outstanding first victory for the 458 Italia of Risi Competizione arrived at the Road America circuit in Wisconsin, the sixth round of the American Le Mans Series. At the end of a particularly hard-fought four hours, the red car of Houston’s Team Ferrari took its first Stateside victory in the GT class thanks to the talents of its pairing of Jaime Melo and Toni Vilander and impeccable teamwork. The duo won the race ahead of the BMWs of Bill Auberlen-Dirk Werner and Dirk Muller-Joey Hand.
Team Principal Giuseppe Risi said: “Today is probably one of the crowning moments of 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. At the last pit stop, the crew were unbelievable. All our calculations turned out perfectly and the tyre change was amazing. It was a great day for us. It was a great honour to be able to carry off the win in full view of the engineer Amedeo Felisa – the CEO of Ferrari – who was here with us to follow the development of the car and this race first-hand.”
In a season that began with work to do, for Jaime Melo this is the prize for all the work that has been put in since the start of the year: “It’s been a tough year for us as we have had many problems with the car at the beginning of the season,” said Melo. “But we finally got the win which is really important for us and for Ferrari. 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.
“We were using Michelin’s new mid-season development tyres throughout the race and they were very consistent. It was quite hard to keep the pace with the different temperatures during the race, and at the beginning it was pretty hard; we had a big battle between us and Corvette and BMW. I knew I had to put in everything I had because they always have something more. Luckily we were able to keep a good pace, Toni did a good job and the strategy was just great. Once again Risi showed we are here to win and we never give up. Now we’re looking forward to the next one.”
There was even more emotion for Toni Vilander, the Finnish driver who took his first victory in the prestigious US series: “First of all I want to thank Jaime for really great work,” he said. “The speed he had at the end was incredible and the Risi team’s pit strategy was awesome. The speed the guys refuelled and changed tyres was something special. It was good to show our potential and it will give us a boost for the remaining races.”
8/20/2011FIA GT3 – A 458 Italia on the podium at the Slovakiaring
Maranello – A 458 Italia finished on the second step of the podium at the end of the fifth round of the FIA GT3 European Championship...
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