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Risi To Scale Back IMSA Schedule

| , RacinToday.com Friday, June 23 2017

Risi Competizione Ferraris have had a down year and will cut its participation in IMSA. (Michael L. Levitt LAT Photo USA)


Houston-based Risi Competizione will withdraw from an unspecified number of upcoming International Motor Sport Association (IMSA) races this year, Team Principal Guiseppe Risi announced Friday.

“Following an extremely challenging first half of 2017, most recently at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, I have decided to withdraw the Risi Competizione race team from part of the 2017 IMSA season in order to consolidate resources and to reflect on future racing programs,” Risi said in a statement.

The Ferrari team _ a successful, championship-winning part of the domestic sports car racing scene for decades _ fully intends to return to competition in 2017. Risi’s future plans will be revealed “in due course,” according to a news release.

Risi Competizione started the 2017 season with third-place podium finishes at both the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. The following two IMSA sprint races on the Streets of Long Beach and Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, saw the team knocked out by fellow competitors and suffer damage to its Ferrari 488 GTLM.

The No. 82 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE-Pro started the 85th edition of Le Mans from the 11th position in a class featuring entries from Aston Martin, Corvette Racing, the Ford GT program and the Porsche factory.

Drivers Giancarlo Fisichella, Toni Vilander and Pierre Kaffer shared the popular Risi Rosso Corse (racing red) Prancing Horse. However, the team was knocked out of competition when the car was struck by an LMP2 class competitor on Lap 72, nearly five hours into the twice-around-the-clock endurance classic.

Risi Competizione had advanced to as high as fifth and nearly completed a full rotation of two stints per driver when the No. 28 LMP2 car turned into the side of Kaffer while attempting to pass. The move catapulted the Ferrari 488 into a track barrier just past the first chicane on the legendary 8.469-mile/13.629-kilometer Circuit de la Sarthe. Caution was waved while Kaffer exited the demolished car, which was towed off the circuit. Kaffer was checked at the track medical facility and released.

The LMP2 car subsequently was assessed a seven-minute penalty for avoidable contact.

“The team worked so hard,” Kaffer said on-site. “We’re the only privateer team to run against the factories and I think we have done pretty well. I think the TV video speaks for itself. Even if I were to face this same situation right now I don’t know how I could avoid it, so I’m feeling really sorry for this bad situation. This is why I sometimes say you need some luck on your side. The car has quite a lot of damage and I feel really sorry for the team about that.”

Starting driver Vilander and second driver Fisichella both had completed on-pace stints before the incident removed any chance of celebrating Risi’s fourth victory at Le Mans.

“We were there with our lap times and we were fighting and very competitive,” Fisichella said. “The accident with Pierre was clearly not his fault. I feel so bad for the team and Giuseppe _everyone put so much into this race. Sad to have it end this way.”

Risi Competizione is a former multiple American Le Mans Series class champion, as well as winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 12 Hours of Sebring and Petit Le Mans endurance races, and numerous U.S. sprint races.

| , RacinToday.com Friday, June 23 2017
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