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Ferrari Hopes Balance Swings Its Way At Elkhart

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Thursday, August 4 2016
Risi Competizione has had a down year but hopes are high that the team's Ferrari 488s will pick up the pace at Road America. (Michael L. Levitt LAT Photo USA)

Risi Competizione has had a down year but hopes are high that the team’s Ferrari 488s will pick up the pace at Road America. (Michael L. Levitt LAT Photo USA)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor

July was busy month for those IMSA officials who tinker with Balance of Performance adjustments for cars that run in their sports car series. The folks at Risi Competizione hope busy for IMSA officials translates to better results for Ferrari at Road America this weekend.

bugfeatureThe Ferrari team has camped on sports car-event podiums around the world for the last several years. It is the most successful Ferrari GT Le Mans racing team in North America and has a history that includes 3 wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, 4 wins at the 12 Hours of Sebring and 3 wins at the Petit Le Mans.

The Houston-based team has won races and championships in the IMSA GT championship, American Le Mans Series, and Rolex Sports Car Series, as well as earning three class wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1998, 2008 and 2009.

But this year, the team’s new Ferrari 488s have yet to win an event in the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Series Championship GT Le Mans category. The division has been dominated by the new Ford GTs, BMW M6s and Corvette C6.Rs.

But in early July, and then again in Mid-July, IMSA officials made a series of adjustments to the GTLM cars.

Ford GTs have had significant weight added and turbo boost cut while the 488s have been given boost boosts, fuel load increases and weight reductions.

Rick Mayer, race engineer for Risi Competizione, said this week it all makes him look forward to this weekend’s IMSA event at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis.

“In the past we’ve had good straight line speed. It’s so hard to pass here; once you’re in front it’s hard to lose the spot if you can keep ahead on the main straights. Hopefully with the recent Balance of Performance (BoP), giving us more boost, we’ll again be competitive on straight line speed.”

While the team and its drivers have not won this year, they have won in the past at 4-mile, 14-turn Road America. There have been three wins and eight podiums over the last 12 years.

The most recent victory for Risi Competizione was in 2014 during Giancarlo Fisichella’s Road America debut. The former F1 driver won with co-driver Pierre Kaffer in the Ferrari 458 GT. Fisichella and Kaffer returned last year for a third-place finish.

Fisichella’s current teammate, Toni Vilander, also has two races at Road America and a victory in 2011.

Mayer said the fact that both his drivers have experience at Road America may help.

Both drivers have raced here recently which will aid in getting a good setup quickly,” Mayer said. “Neither driver will get many laps with the three session each only 60 minutes long.”

Both drivers are jacked about returning the track which many driver’s contend is America’s best. Fisichella says his team’s experience there will be a positive.

“I think it will be a very good thing,” he said. “I know the circuit very well, Toni too. We both won on this nice circuit. The team is perfect as usual. The car will be well prepared and I think the circuit is good for the Ferrari.”

Especially with the BoP-adjusted Ferrari.

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Thursday, August 4 2016
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