Giuseppe Risi, owner of the Risi Competizione race team, announced on 23 June 2017 that the team will withdraw from some of the upcoming International Motor Sport Association (IMSA) races this year. The announcement comes just a week after the team’s #82 Ferrari 488 GTE Pro car was ousted from the Le Mans 24 Hour race in France, in an unprovoked accident with a faster LMP2 car in the fifth hour.
During the 24-hour race, the #82 Ferrari was overtaking a slower Ferrari approaching the first chicane on the Mulsanne Straight, when the #28 TDS Racing LMP2 Oreca driven by Matthieu Vaxivière pulled out to overtake both cars. Thinking that he had cleared the #82 Ferrari of Pierre Kaffer, Vaxivière pulled back onto the racing line. Unfortunately though, the LMP2 car had not cleared the front end of the Ferrari, and as Vaxivière pulled his Oreca back onto the racing line, he clipped the front right corner of the Ferrari, sending it straight into the barrier on the left of the track. The Ferrari spun wildly multiple times, but fortunately stayed on its wheels, and after coming to a rest it was towed off the circuit whereupon Kaffer was able to exit the car on his own.
Kaffer was given a full check at the circuit’s medical facility, and was fortunately given the all-clear and released. The #28 TDS Racing Oreca 07 car was subsequently given a 7-minute penalty for causing the accident, but Vaxivière wasted no time in issuing a public apology to Pierre Kaffer who graciously accepted.
At the Risi Competizione ‘meet the team’ session on the Friday prior to the race, I had been shown around the #82 Ferrari. The car was no more than three weeks old, being the 66th of only 68 such Ferrari 488 GTEs made to date, and the car had only covered 1300km in testing prior to coming to Le Mans. This included test miles at Ferrari’s own Fiorano Circuit upon collection, the Adria International Raceway in northern Italy, and the Le Mans test day itself at the beginning of June. This 488 GTE was Risi Competizione’s second car that the team was campaigning this season, but as the damage from the Le Mans incident had not been fully assessed at the time of writing, this car’s future remained uncertain.
“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,” said Team Principal, Giuseppe Risi.
The Risi Competizione Team started the 2017 season with third place podium finishes at both the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring. The following two IMSA sprint races at Long Beach and Circuit of the Americas saw the team knocked out of both events with damage to the Ferrari 488 GTLM.
The Team, which has been a successful, championship-winning part of the US sports car racing scene for many decades, proudly representing Ferrari, fully intends to return to competition in 2017. The Le Mans incident was not thought to have influenced the Risi Team’s decision to withdraw from some IMSA races as the car campaigned in the US is a different car. The team’s future plans will be revealed in due course.
Written/edited by: Glen Smale
Images by: Virtual Motorpix/Glen Smale & John Mountney