While the Risi Competizione 458 that raced at Sebring was headed back to the team’s Houston shop to begin preparations for Long Beach in two weeks, another 458 Italia was being purposely “beat up” at the circuit this week.
no images were foundThe unliveried 458 arrived at the track race week from Michelotto, Ferrari’s division responsible for GT and sports prototype racing efforts and development. The car was secured in the Risi transporter, out of sight from the throng of fans and media during the race. That is until Monday when the car was unloaded to begin an extensive data acquisition program. On track were Risi driver Toni Vilander and ESM Tequila Patron driver Guy Cosmo. Cosmo was substituting for Jamie Melo whom was unavailable for the test. Cosmo races the same Ferrari 458 for Scott Sharp’s Extreme Speed Motorsport team and is considered one of the best at providing feedback to the engineers. The group experimented with various tire compounds and fuel loads, running different intervals from five to 20 laps over two days.
Feedback and data is what Michelotto was looking for. Though the AF Corse squad’s Gimmi Bruni grabbed GT class pole for the race (in last year’s Ferrari 430), the RLL BMWs quickly showed dominance in the race and were the class of the GT field. The one-two BMW finish picked up where they left off at Petit-Le Mans in September when Risi let the win and the series championship slip through their hands over a careless splash and dash stop that left the 430 stranded on the circuit and gifted BMW the championship.
Risi Competizione’s crew chief Chris Riggs, along with Team Engineer and electronics specialist Don Shaver and Tire Technicians Mike Koger and Bill Farrell worked with their counterparts from Michelotto that included chief engineer Luigi Dindo and Ferrari’s Maurizio Nardon, the head of Corse Clienti (Client Racing for Michelotto).
no images were foundFerrari now heads back to Italy to analyze what are likely gigabytes of data gathered during the race and the post race test, not only for their ALMS teams but their Le Mans and ILMC series teams. The Risi squad heads to Long Beach in two weeks for round two of ALMS series. Melo is expected to be back and join Vilander. Though one race doesn’t make a season, what happens at Long Beach could be the measuring stick of how far the 458 has come, or where it needs to get to. To paraphrase Steve McQueen’s famous Le Mans quote “Racing is life… everything before and after is just waiting,” at Ferrari, be it Formula 1, or GT sports racing, “Winning is Life….”