Vilander Happy to take fifth in GTLM qualifying


Risi Competizione driver Toni Vilander was pleased to qualify the #62 Ferrari 488 GTE in fifth position ahead of its Daytona 24 Hours debut this weekend.

The Finn had to overcome extremely challenging conditions to set a 2:03.386s best in the short GT Le Mans qualifying session.

Vilander placed fifth overall, 1.978s adrift of class pole-sitter Nick Tandy in the Porsche North America 911 RSR.

Risi will start on the third row of the GTLM class, behind the two works Porsches, the #100 BMW M6 and the #68 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488.

The session came down to a last-lap shootout between the five manufacturers after a crash for Gianmaria Bruni in the SMP Racing Ferrari 488 brought out the red flag.

“First of all we had a good two sessions on wet conditions,” said Vilander. “The amount of water for qualifying increased quite a bit. At the beginning of the session it was really difficult. I could go up to third and fourth gear on the straight lines and really be on the edge and I didn’t know when I was going to lose the car.”

“Then they stopped the qualifying with a red-flag, so I thought there was probably a little less water. (Race Engineer) Rick (Mayer) informed me really well about how much time was left so I could pace myself and on the last lap I could improve the performance. But we would have needed another five to ten minutes to really cover it.”

“The car felt good on the infield, but high speed still had some aquaplaning issues. We have had similar things in the past so there is some margin for improvement. I’m really happy the car is in one piece and we are going for the race start on Saturday. Tonight and tomorrow we will start rotating all four drivers and get into the real team effort and then start looking forward to the race.”

Sunshine is expected to return for the start of the race on Saturday, January 30. Risi Competizione will be one of the key teams to watch in GTLM with its experienced lineup of Vilander, Giancarlo Fisichella, Davide Rigon and Olivier Beretta. The race is due to get underway at 14:40 ET.