Giuseppe Risi's eponymous Ferrari squad had hoped to leave Connecticut with another race win from Lime Rock Park to add to its success at the previous round of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS).
But it was not to be.
The biggest blow to the Houston based team came after just 22 minutes when their lead car – driven by Jaime Melo and Gimmi Bruni was forced into retirement after an accident with the no.3 Corvette at turn one.
“After the race went green again [following a first full course caution period], I overtook the no.3 Corvette in turn one and he just pushed me off the track,” Melo said. We were running second behind the Porsche and had a very good chance for this race. I can’t explain how disappointed I am.”
The damage – especially to the right-rear of the Ferrari 430 – was enough to make it retire on the spot. Having completed just 22 laps (far below the 70% required under ALMS to score points at a race) the duo saw their lead in the drivers' championship slip away.
The early demise of the no.62 car meant the Risi challenge was taken up by the no.61 car, in the hands of Risi veterans Mika Salo and Pierre Kaffer (though both are kept to limited schedules with the team this season). They car led the class, as the team gambled on pit strategy to stay on track during both the first and second safety car periods.
However, the third – and ultimately final – intervention by the safety car came at the wrong time for the team and the car dropped from down to fourth from the lead when they made their pitstop.
It was there they would remain for the rest of the race – the deficit to the BMW in third too large for Salo and Kaffer to cancel out.
“We’re obviously a bit disappointed that we didn’t get a podium finish, but we managed to get some good points today for Ferrari and for Risi Competizione so that was our main target It was pretty fierce on the track at times, so I think we should consider ourselves lucky to have got to the end of the race without any damage to our car,” said Kaffer after a race that saw plenty of contact around the short layout.
“It was really hot in the car,” said Salo on a day where temperatures reached 88 degrees. “You don’t feel it so much when you are driving, but when you stop it really hits you. Our car was suffering from bad understeer; we needed some more laps in the dry to get the set up right, and this was my first race in the Ferrari since last year so I probably needed some more laps also but it was good to be backing racing here again.”