The no. 62 Ferrari of Risi Competizione claimed victory in the GTLM category of the 2019 running of the Petit Le Mans. This was the fifth win for Risi Competizione at the famed 10-hour event, the most recent occurring in 2016. The no. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari was in contention all race long but a late incident relegated them to fifth at the checkered flag.
Risi Competizone took its fifth class win at Petit Le Mans, 21 years after its overall victory in the first ever running of the now-classic endurance event. The no. 62 Ferrari featured an all-star driver line up of James Calado, Alessandro Pier Guidi and Daniel Serra, the same line up that took victory at Le Mans four months earlier. In a race that was interrupted by only four caution periods, the drivers and Risi Competizione executed a flawless race, executing efficient pit stops and a perfect strategy, combined with clean, consistent driving throughout the race’s 10 hour duration.
Pace from the Start. The no. 62 Ferrari demonstrated pace throughout the weekend, starting with taking pole positon on Friday and continuing to the opening laps of Saturday’s race. James Calado opened with an excellent stint that demonstrated the pace of the Ferrari 488 GTE, opening a gap that grew as large as ten seconds, however, with the impressive pace came higher than expected tire wear, manifesting in the form of blisters on both the left front and left rear tire. As the temperatures cooled, however, the problem lessened, allowing the team to push harder.
Final caution causes drama. An incident involving the no. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari caused the final caution period of the race with just over 30 minutes remaining. By the time the incident was cleared, it was down to a 25 minute dash to the finish. James Calado, however, had pace in hand and eased away from the chasing GTLM competitors, ultimately winning by nearly eight seconds.
James Calado said, “Thanks to the team for an amazing car. The line-up was incredible and our result, it was a hard race. We kind of came into the race at a pace unknown. We had a serious blistering of the tires so we were hoping that the temperatures would come down. They did, and it helped. The car was amazing at the end and what driving and what a team! It’s an incredible achievement. We keep getting better and better. We’re all getting older but still better. I’m in it in every lap still and I just look forward to more of this in the future.”
The no. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 enjoyed a race full of promise but ultimately fell short of the ideal result. After fighting for the lead early in the race, the Scuderia Corsa Ferrari fell back a bit in the middle portion of the race, but seemed prime for a charge to the front in the final two hours. Their charge, however, was blunted by a late race incident. Toni Vilander was charging forwards, but a lunge to the inside of another GTD car went poorly, and beached the Ferrari in a gravel trap. He was able to recover to fifth by the time the checkered flag fell. The team’s efforts earned them second in the 2019 Endurance Cup.
“I feel good about the majority of the season,” MacNeil said. “It went as a race season goes, you have some highs and some lows and everything in between. The Scuderia Corsa guys persevered all season. They put in the work to compete at the front of the field in this competitive GTD championship. It is too bad we weren’t able to finish the last race on the podium. We ran fast all day and were in contention for a podium up until the last 40-minutes. I feel good about my track record here at [Road Atlanta], we won the race last year. We will be looking to comeback even stronger next year.”