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Toni Vilander files his latest Sportscar365 column following CTMP…

Photo: Risi Competizione

Photo: Risi Competizione

So we’ve just finished our 6th round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and our only trip north of the U.S. border to Canada.

I really like the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park – which is still better known to most of us as Mosport – track but it didn’t favor us too well this trip.

Despite a revised Balance of Performance, which for the Ferrari equated to just one additional liter of fuel, we still weren’t on the same pace as our GTLM competitors and we started and finished an unrepresentative 7th in class.

But I’m not going to go on and on about BoP because, honestly, it’s too frustrating for all of us at Risi Comp. and probably too boring for you all to have to hear it!

So I thought I’d tell you a bit about our team instead – the faces behind the red helmets and goggles.

We’ve got a really great group of guys in the team and they are really calm and hard-working, and regularly whip everyone’s backsides in the pit stops by being faster than everyone else.

Besides Giuseppe Risi, who doesn’t need any introduction, there’s Dave ‘Beaky’ Sims who is a bit of a legend in motorsport. There’s not much that he hasn’t been, done, seen or experienced on both sides of the Atlantic, and he is our team manager and spokesman if the boss isn’t there.

He’s not often seen without a good British cup of tea in his hand, but knows just how to deal with the authorities on regulations when we need him.

On the engineering side we’ve got Rick Mayer, who’s been with Risi for a long, long time and knows the series real well. He also knows all the guys at Michelotto well and that’s a big bonus – and we’re even beginning to understand him when he talks real fast!

He’s helped by Don Shaver who deals with fuel strategy, electrics and telemetry, and Leigh Pettipas who processes all our data.

Richard Taylor has multiple roles as technical manager, including being our gearbox/subassembly specialist. He was one of the first men to work on the sequential F1 gearbox and has been with Risi since the Doyle-Risi Racing 333SP days.

Both he and Beaky worked a long time in F1, but have also been Stateside for decades and are very familiar faces around the paddocks.

Russell Adams deals with business and logistics outside track sessions, making sure the team’s equipment, uniforms, parts and so on get to where they need to be on time, but he’s also our ace helper when we do driver changes.

He’s big into mountain biking, has loads of energy and does a great job; we all practice hard together.

Our crew chief has a familiar name – Mark Sims – for good reason. He’s Beaky’s son! He’s very organized, very calm and works very hard; he’s a great asset to the team and demon quick with the wheel gun.

Working with him on the car are No. 1 mechanic Steve Sustich, who’s been with the team for a long time now, Miles Bradley and Marcus Rider.

They’re a cool bunch of guys and there’s always a lot of good humor in the team… lots of us have worked for teams where there’s one person whose mood affects everyone else, but that doesn’t seem to apply at Risi.

Wayne Gape and David Armstrong are our transportation guys, or ‘truckies’ and they look after all the set up in the pits as well as getting the cars and equipment safely to wherever they need to go.

Wayne’s wife worked with the team as a mechanic when I first was with Risi – it’s a big family team.

Everyone works hard on the team, but one of the most hard-working is Bill Farrell, our tire guy. He never stops and always has a big smile on his face.

Gill Kazsuba is our refueler and also deals with pit set up, and Mike Corcoran is another guy who never seems to be doing nothing. He’s our fireman during sessions and, as a former firefighter, is really cool under pressure.

When small flash fires start suddenly, a lot of people’s reaction is a run away from them, but Mike is known for being right there dealing with it. Just what you need.

Finally, two people who do lots behind the scenes are Don Meyer our spotter, who works most but not all races, and Barbara Burns our PR lady who keeps us in the news and at the right place at the right time for all our media events.

Giancarlo and I might be the better known faces of the team, but every single person here works non-stop to try and get the best results possible for Ferrari and for Giuseppe Risi.

We win and lose together as a team, and we’re all hoping that our next race at Lime Rock will be better than CTMP. Wish us luck!

Toni Vilander (@Toni_Vilander) is a two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans class winner and 2014 FIA World Endurance GTE-Pro Champion, driving for Risi Competizione in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.


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